GOP responds to Nashville shooting with anti-trans rhetoric

A woman walks with her arms around two upset children in school uniforms.
Family members reunite at a Nashville church after the deadly school shooting Monday.
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

Around 10 a.m. Monday, Nashville police were notified of a school shooting.

You already know what happened next: Police responded to the scene to neutralize the shooter, parents descended on the school to see if their children were still alive, advocates begged Washington lawmakers for gun law reforms, and many of those politicians responded by offering their thoughts and prayers.

In many ways, the shooting at the Covenant School was exactly like all the ones that came before it. But the identity of the now-deceased shooter has complicated the usual story, fueling an already raging anti-trans culture war on the right.

Hello, friends, I’m Erin B. Logan. I cover national politics for the Los Angeles Times. This week, we are going to talk about guns, kids and the culture wars.

Anti-trans sentiment rises again

Virtually all mass shootings in the United States are perpetrated by cisgender white men. But the alleged Nashville school shooter — Audrey Hale, 28 and a former student of the Christian school — identified as transgender.

Some on the right seized on this single data point as evidence that their wide-ranging concerns about trans people are well-founded.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said that people should stop blaming guns for the shootings. “How much hormones like testosterone and medications for mental illness was the transgender Nashville school shooter taking,” Greene tweeted.


Former President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that “rather than talking about guns we should be talking about lunatics pushing their gender affirming bullshit on our kids?”

Americans’ easy access to guns is the actual cause of mass shootings in this country, gun control advocates countered. “People who are trans are much more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, replied on Twitter. “It’s the guns.”

The Rev. Jacqui Lewis, a New York City-based author, noted that the high levels of coverage focused on the assailant’s identity.

“All these headlines about a trans shooter when almost every other mass shooting is committed by cisgender men,” Lewis, who is also an author, tweeted. “There’s a story about shootings and gender, but you’re not writing it.”

More thoughts, more prayers

Firearms are the leading cause of death for American children.

After the Uvalde school shooting in 2022, President Biden approved a sweeping and bipartisan anti-gun-violence bill. Advocates have said that the law, though substantial, will not prevent most shootings because it did not ban assault weapons or mandate background checks for those purchasing firearms.


These measures were left out of the bill were left out to ensure it could pass.

Speaking from the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday, Biden said he has “gone the full extent of my executive authority to do, on my own, anything about guns.”

He added: “The majority of the American people think having assault weapons is bizarre. It’s a crazy idea. They’re against that. And so, I think the Congress should be passing the assault weapons ban.”

At the moment, though, most GOP lawmakers have no appetite for banning assault weapons.

Speaking from the steps of the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) on Tuesday claimed that the problem of mass shootings, which are much more common in the U.S. than in other developed countries, is unsolvable.

“It’s a horrible, horrible situation. We’re not going to fix it. Criminals are going to be criminals,” he told a reporter, suggesting that nothing can stop someone who wants to do a mass shooting.

(The shooter, who had experienced “emotional issues,” had legally purchased seven firearms from five local gun stores, Times writer Alexandra E. Petri reported.)

When asked what could be done to protect people like his young daughter from shootings, Burchett replied, “Well, we home-school her,” he said.


He added: “Some people don’t have that option... It just suited our needs much better.”

Check out "The Times" podcast for essential news and more

These days, waking up to current events can be, well, daunting. If you’re seeking a more balanced news diet, “The Times” podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano, along with a diverse set of reporters from the award-winning L.A. Times newsroom, delivers the most interesting stories from the Los Angeles Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

The latest from the campaign trail

— Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) announced Sunday that he will co-chair Rep. Barbara Lee’s campaign for U.S. Senate, Nolan D. McCaskill reported.

—The Manhattan grand jury that has been hearing testimony about hush money paid on Donald Trump’s behalf will not take up that inquiry again this week, meaning any potential vote on an indictment won’t happen until next week at the earliest, the Associated Press reported.

— San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced Sunday night he would be seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress and alcohol abuse and would be ending his state Senate campaign, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

The view from Washington

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, is a legendary master of political survival, Tracy Wilkinson and Laura King reported. For once, he may have overplayed his hand.


— Top Democrats are warning Biden against restarting the practice of detaining migrant families who cross the U.S. southern border without authorization, Courtney Subramanian and Hamed Aleaziz reported. As he prepares for an expected 2024 presidential campaign, Biden has tried to distance himself from the left, showing more willingness to crack down on illegal immigration.

— Is it a crime or free speech for someone to “encourage” immigrants to come to this country illegally, or remain here after their visas have expired? The Supreme Court grappled with that question Monday in a clash between immigration law and the 1st Amendment, David G. Savage reported.

—A federal judge has ruled that former Vice President Mike Pence must testify before a grand jury after he was subpoenaed by the special counsel investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election, the Associated Press reported.

The view from California

— California lawmakers on Monday approved Gov. Gavin Newsom’s legislation to increase transparency in the oil industry, ending a special session he called last year to penalize excessive profits, Taryn Luna reported.

— Workers on Monday began dismantling the fence that has surrounded Echo Park Lake, two years after a massive homeless encampment was cleared out of the historic park, David Zahniser reported.

— For years, law enforcement agencies across California have been trained to quickly question family members after a police killing in order to collect information that, among other things, is used to protect the involved officers and their department, Brian Howey reported.


Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send pictures of your adorable furbabies to me at

Stay in touch

Keep up with breaking news on our Politics page. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics?

Did someone forward you this? Sign up here to get Essential Politics in your inbox.

Until next time, send your comments, suggestions and news tips to