The Bulletin

Amid Texas tragedy, an unsurprising, red herring-laden speech from Winsome Earle-Sears

By: - June 1, 2022 12:01 am

Republican nominee for lieutenant governor Winsome Sears speaks during a GOP rally at Eagles Nest Rockin’ Country Bar in Chesapeake, Va., June 5, 2021. Parker Michels-Boyce for the Virginia Mercury

No one is shocked that Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears refused to say new gun restrictions are needed in the wake of the mass slaying at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, last week. After all, she posed with a military-style rifle in campaign mailers while running for office in 2021

For staunch believers in gun rights, the firearms can never be the problem. Even if the cognitive dissonance is galling.

Earle-Sears, a Republican, addressed a women’s luncheon at the National Rifle Association’s annual conference in Houston. It’s in the same state where last week’s horror occurred. 

While decrying the deaths, she trotted out several red herrings to avoid blaming guns for the carnage. Among them:

“We took prayer out of schools,” she said – even though students can still do so privately in public schools. Besides, the U.S. Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer more than a half-century ago; it’s not a new phenomenon.

We have emasculated our men,” Earle-Sears added – as if the 18-year-old man who killed 19 young students and two teachers could’ve even defined the word.

“Fatherless homes,” “countless Black men murdering each other,” and more were in her speech. 

They are indeed societal problems. But so is the easy access to guns across the country. 

After all, we have more firearms than people in the United States. It’s nothing to be proud of.

The NRA, the premier gun rights organization in the U.S., has donated the bulk of its $1.26 million in Virginia to Republican candidates and committees, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. The organization, its members and other pro-gun advocates hold vast influence with the GOP in Congress, thus ensuring gun-control bills rarely become law. 

It’s not the NRA’s money that sways Virginia politics: It’s the members.

That’s the case, even though The New York Times on Sunday graphically noted how many mass shootings involved attackers who legally obtained the firearms they used to kill, maim and cause immeasurable grief. 

They included the assailant in Uvalde, who was eventually killed by authorities. He couldn’t even legally buy beer. 

A quote attributed to Upton Sinclair comes to mind whenever these mass shootings occur: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” 

Republican lawmakers know thousands of people die annually by gun violence. They know the NRA gives them buckets of money and holds sway with right wing voters. They know the group fights virtually every attempt at restricting ownership and usage.

So for Earle-Sears – and many other Republican politicians – it can never be the guns. 

They don’t dare speak the name.


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Roger Chesley
Roger Chesley

Longtime columnist and editorial writer Roger Chesley worked at the (Newport News) Daily Press and The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot from 1997 through 2018. He previously worked at newspapers in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Detroit. Reach him at [email protected]