Column: Will the Chiefs parade shooting inspire enough Republican voters to make a change?

Families in red Chiefs shirts fleeing from a parade route
Fans who came out to celebrate the Chiefs in Kansas City on Wednesday ended up running for their lives when shots were fired.
(Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images)

You know why this country has a problem with mass shootings? For the same reason we’re likely to have an octogenarian president during the next administration.

Both President Biden and former President Trump are old — as in “both men were alive for the start of the first Arab-Israeli war” kind of old. Polls show their age is a concern for many Americans. Primary election results so far show that isn’t swaying many people’s votes.

Opinion Columnist

LZ Granderson

LZ Granderson writes about culture, politics, sports and navigating life in America.

This contradiction illustrates why it’s nearly impossible to do anything of significance about our gun problem.


On Super Bowl Sunday, a 7-year-old boy was critically wounded during a shootout at a megachurch in Houston. On Wednesday, the parade for the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory turned into another one of our gun nightmares: one dead, more than 20 injured.

Around 90% of Americans support universal background checks for gun purchases. So why won’t GOP lawmakers let it happen?

April 11, 2023

Polls show most Americans want more laws to prevent mass shootings. Primary election results so far show that isn’t swaying many people’s votes.

A critical mass of conservatives get behind any candidate endorsed by the National Rifle Assn. out of fear that Democrats are trying to take everyone’s guns away — which, by the way, is not happening. What’s really going on is a fear-driven and irrational arms race. Americans are amassing assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which no civilian should own and which inevitably fall into the wrong hands. Now every corner of American life is a potential site for a mass shooting: places of worship, elementary schools, the mall, any public gathering.

Too many people killed by guns? Some folks suggest getting more guns into the hands of more people. A stunning percentage of the GOP accepts frequent mass shootings as part of American life.

June 8, 2022

In a Shakespearean twist, one of the few places you won’t find a gun is an NRA convention. Members accept a weapons ban when big names like Trump make appearances. When the Secret Service said, “no guns allowed,” the lobby group didn’t declare the policy an attack on 2nd Amendment rights. The organizers said OK.

The NRA knows what the polls say. Most Americans, including most Republicans and most owners of firearms, have long supported common-sense gun laws that would prevent many mass shootings. But the gun lobby cares more about how people vote than about how they respond to polls. Republicans aren’t concerned enough to favor sane candidates when there are pro-gun absolutists on the ballot.

America’s assault weapons ban, in effect from 1994 to 2004, shows that such a law enacted now would mean many fewer Nashvilles in the future.

March 30, 2023

It’s not as if there aren’t Republicans in favor of common-sense gun laws. They just don’t make it to November.


You know who does?

The kind of candidate that likes to hold guns in campaign ads. The kind who would cut funding for mental health programs and then lament the country’s problem with mental health after a mass shooting. The politicians who make it to November are the ones who ensure weapons of war are easy to buy. Those politicians get real quiet when the weapons they endorsed are used to gun down children.

Mass shooters often tip their hands with spending patterns leading up to their crimes. Financial companies have long watched for such aberrations, thanks to the Patriot Act. Future red flags should be reported.

Feb. 23, 2023

Out of concern for public safety, we have decided to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the opioid crisis, and yet we do not do the same for gun manufacturers. Out of concern for public safety, we have decided to limit the number of over-the-counter allergy pills a person can buy, but we sell an endless supply of bullets to anyone.

We have accepted having our private parts inspected at the airport because one terrorist attempted to ignite explosives embedded in his underwear 15 years ago. And yet politicians pretend that it’s difficult to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

ShotGPT, Whoogle? and SnapPray make it easy for Republicans in Congress to do nothing — or worse — on gun violence.

May 7, 2023

How exactly do Republican leaders propose to keep us safe, when they are abdicating their responsibility? They pretend that we’d be better off if more of the folks drinking in bars had guns and if more people who walked into churches were armed to kill.

That fear-driven arms race has gone so far beyond reason that there’s a mass delusion we can shoot our way out of the epidemic of mass shootings. Any proposal that might actually work? Well, the gun lobby bats it away as an untenable threat to 2nd Amendment rights. That’s how the thinking goes.

If we can call that “thinking.”

More than 200 Republicans voted against raising the age limit to buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21. Apparently, there’s a sweet spot where people are too young to drink beer but old enough to purchase military weapons.

Much like our electoral habit of voting for the presidential candidates we say are too old for the job, in the wake of mass shootings we continue to seek answers from elected officials who tell us there’s nothing they can do.


We can’t send our kids to school, the movies or even a Super Bowl parade flooded with more than 800 law enforcement officers without worrying about guns. That’s not safer living. That’s living under siege. Public shootings are part of our lives because while most Americans say we are concerned about guns, conservatives are not concerned enough to vote for Republicans who want to do something about it.