Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tried — and failed — to offer comfort to the citizens of his state grieving a horrific mass shooting by telling them to put it "in context."
On Sunday, 26 people were murdered and many more injured in a horrific shooting spree at the Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
The massacre is the deadliest shooting in the state’s history. But Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who has complained that not enough Texans own guns, appeared on Fox News to offer what he called “context.”
While this mass shooting — as well as another mass shooting that happened in Las Vegas only a month ago, and a terrorist attack in New York a week ago — might seem “heavy right now,” Abbott said, people should put these tragedies in context.
“Look at what happened with Hitler,” he said.
ABBOTT: I’d call it a two-step process. Part is putting this in context, and remember, even though we’re facing these severe tragedies — whether it be what happened in Sutherland Springs, or what happened in Las Vegas, or what happened in New York last week, or what happened in London earlier this year — we have acts of evil taking place, and because they are close in time to us right now, we think this is something heavy right now. But put this in the context of history. Look at what happened with Hitler during the horrific events during that era.
It is not clear how Abbott thinks that putting recent tragic events in the context of history by comparing them to the millions of people who perished in the Holocaust somehow makes recent events less bad.
Decades later, the Holocaust remains a painful and dark stain on human history and no less tragic to those whose families suffered or were wiped out completely.
For Abbott to suggest that somehow, those people of Sutherland Springs who lost their loved ones Sunday merely think their grief is “heavy right now” because they lack historical context demonstrates a shocking and appalling insensitivity to victims and their families.
What people need is compassion and action to prevent future tragedies like this one. But they’re not likely to get that from Abbott. He has fought to remove any gun restrictions whatsoever in his state, pushing for both concealed and open carry permits on college campuses and even in mental hospitals. Two years ago, he said he’s “embarrassed” that Texans don’t own more guns:
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 28, 2015
According to a social media post, the shooter purchased his gun to murder more than two dozen people fairly recently — after Abbott called on his state’s citizens to “pick up the pace” in gun ownership.
Now, an entire town is devastated by a preventable tragedy. Instead of telling those people their loss should be compared to one of history’s worst genocides to appropriately gauge how “heavy” these deaths really are, the governor should be talking about what he’s going to do to stop the next one from happening.