In a sign of reverberating shock at the gun violence, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN on Thursday that he has deputized for Texas Sen. John Cornyn, another Republican, to see if federal action bipartisanship on firearms was possible.

Stay skeptical. The extent of the progress is that Cornyn said he had “knocked down gloves” with Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat and outspoken advocate for new gun laws.

Cornyn, notably, is among Republicans to step down from a speaking role at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting this weekend in Houston, across the state from the scene of the Uvalde tragedy. His office cited a scheduling conflict earlier this week.

That top Republicans like McConnell and Cornyn want to at least seem open to action on guns is breaking news, even if what they might ultimately support is far from sweeping action on guns.

That the show should continue at the NRA convention is a bit more true to the usual politics around gun safety versus gun rights.

Some are canceling on the NRA

The NRA convention will not be the originally planned event.

RELATED: What to Know About the NRA’s Annual Meeting in Houston

In addition to Cornyn, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, also from Texas, pulled out of the event. Abbott canceled his in-person appearance to instead attend a press conference at Uvalde, but addressed the NRA convention via a pre-recorded video message.

“God Bless the USA” singer Lee Greenwood told Fox he was canceling his performance because he didn’t want to come across as endorsing “this weapon.”

“That gun killed kids, and I just couldn’t go for it,” Greenwood said, apparently referring to the AR platform assault rifles used by Uvalde’s shooter.
Other musicians, including Don McLean, Larry Gatlin and Larry Stewart, also canceled.

Gatlin told CNN he still supports gun rights and the NRA. He is still a cardholder member.

“I didn’t think it was the right time to come down to Houston and celebrate with them digging 21 new graves in the valley of my precious and beloved Texas,” he said.

The RNA influence cycle

There is an uncanny similarity between this year’s annual meeting, which takes place A few days after the Uvalde shooting and the 1999 annual meeting, which took place in Denver A few days after the Columbine High School shooting.

On Friday, CNN aired audio obtained by NPR of a leaked phone call among NRA officials after the Columbine shooting, when one said to cancel the convention: “If we shut up and let’s run, we’re going to accept responsibility for what happened there.”
Another uncanny similarity: When I was watching recent coverage of the NRA by CNN, I came across this story about how, even though the organization has been dogged by financial and legal issues, it had lost a bipartisan image and had aligned itself almost exclusively with the Republicans. History was made in March 2021 after two mass shootings in quick succession — in Georgia and Colorado — sparked a push for new gun measures on Capitol Hill.

The cycle repeats itself again and again.

Trump and Cruz are present

Not ashamed to appear in person at the NRA convention were other Republicans, including former President Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Earlier this week, Cruz told CNN’s Jessica Dean that people calling for gun laws again after the massacre in her home country were trying to politicize the tragedy.

“You see Democrats and a lot of people in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Cruz said.

American exceptionalism

Here’s what happened when Mark Stone, an American correspondent for British outlet Sky News, asked Cruz this week why the United States had so many more gun deaths than other developed countries.

Rock: “But why is this only happening in your country? I really think that’s what a lot of people around the world can’t understand, why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so horrible ?”

Cruz: “I’m sorry you think American exceptionalism is awful.”

Stone: “I think that aspect of it…”

Cruz: “You have your political program. God loves you.”

Learn more about this Cruz firearms exchange.

Whose right is it?

Much has been focused this week on the gun debate in light of the abortion debate.

The Supreme Court is about to strike down the right of American women to have abortions in all states. Their thinking is that state legislatures should have this power.

While the newly conservative court is likely to strike down the right to abortion, the court considers sacrosanct the right of people to own guns, which is enshrined in a clause in the Bill of Rights in the context of a “well-regulated militia, being necessary for the safety of a free State.”

States seem very insecure now that gunmen regularly kill people going about their daily lives.

Using anti-abortion tactics against gun owners

Inspired by a Texas law allowing citizens to sue people who facilitate abortions, California lawmakers voted to allow people to sue those who make or sell so-called ghost guns and illegal assault weapons.

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asked Texas State Rep. James White why the Texas Legislature doesn’t use the same creativity it has shown in protecting unborn embryos to keep children from being slaughtered at school.

“Use the same model you used for your abortion law,” Camerota suggested as an example. “Make sure there are waiting periods, make them come back more than once, make them answer questions. Why can’t you protect 10-year-olds? living?”

“We have this thing called the Constitution,” White said in response. “What we really need to look at, whether it’s Buffalo or Uvalde, are these young men, for some reason, having a very disturbed emotional state.”

Again, Texas is lacking. In April, the state cut funding to the department that oversees mental health programs, according to an NBC News report.

You’ll hear this refrain from those who still choose to attend the NRA meeting this weekend, that sanity is the key to stopping the shootings. You will hear the allegation that Democrats are politicizing the shooting. And you’ll hear the argument that more school officials need guns.

What you won’t hear is “God bless America.”