Anger and outrage meet exasperation and math on guns: The Note - ABC News

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The TAKE with Rick Klein

"Every American will get to see on which side every senator stands," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said just three weeks ago, in teeing up a vote on abortion rights that he knew would fail.

"This isn't a case of the American people not knowing where their senators stand," Schumer said Wednesday, in deciding not to tee up votes on guns that he knew would fail in the wake of the heartbreaking school shooting in Texas.

Both were political statements on heavily political topics. Whether the decision was to show the partisan divide or assume its continued existence, the outcome is likely to be the same -- and similar to how other pushes for voting rights and Build Back Better met grim fates in the Senate.

It makes for a sickening moment in the nation that also showcases a political weariness on the topic of school violence and so much else. President Joe Biden's call for "backbone" notwithstanding, scattered talks among lawmakers have to overcome midterm-year pressures as well as the near-universal perception that they are destined to fail.

 Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, May 18, 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, May 18, 2022.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The answer so far as most national Democrats are concerned now is also political, part of a broad argument they hope voters will consider in the midterms. Universal background checks, red-flag laws, limiting gun sales to those over 21 -- they have been tried and poll-vetted and test-voted before.

The answer from most national Republicans -- that new gun laws won't work, that schools should be fortified and mental health deficiencies addressed -- is likely to harden Friday when the NRA meets in Houston to hear from former President Donald Trump and major political figures from Texas and beyond.

Mass shootings, especially when they involve children, continue to be powerful moments for national focus. But the question of whether this time will be different in bringing legislative change is hardly being asked any longer.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

As Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for a renewed focus on mental health in remarks about the horrific Uvalde school shooting, he was met with an unexpected confrontation from former Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

O'Rourke, who is running against Abbott in the state's gubernatorial election, interrupted the press conference to call out Abbott's refusal to address gun reform.

"You said this was not predictable," O'Rourke said to Abbott in front of scores of cameras. "This is totally predictable, you choose not to do anything."

 Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke disrupts a press conference held by Governor Greg Abbott the day after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, May 25, 2022.

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke disrupts a press conference held by Governor Greg Abbott the day after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, May 25, 2022.

Veronica Cardenas/Reuters

O'Rourke's camp called the interruption unplanned and "spur of the moment." The move was met with contempt from those who appeared with Abbott, including Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, who called O'Rourke a "sick son of a b----" before the candidate was escorted out of the auditorium. Others praised O'Rourke for speaking out.

The back and forth highlights the partisan tensions that routinely flare up around these all-too-common deadly mass shootings. What has yet to materialize is legislation to address gun violence.

In Texas, the GOP-led legislature has actually loosened gun laws, even in the wake of other mass shootings. Just last year, Abbott signed a law that allows the unlicensed carry of handguns. The governor is also expected to address attendees at a National Rifle Association convention Friday.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

While thousands of ballots are still being adjudicated following last week's elections, on Wednesday, Pennsylvania's acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman announced the Republican Senate primary will be going into a recount. The process is set to cost Pennsylvania's taxpayers as much as a million dollars, but the amount could fluctuate to $1.1 million or more, according to Chapman.

Counties can begin counting Friday and must start no later than June 1. They must complete the recount by June 7 to submit their results by June 8, Chapman said during a press conference. All races not subject to a recount will be certified June 6.

Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick are the top two vote-getters. As of Wednesday afternoon, Oz had 419,365 votes and McCormick had 418,463, which separates the candidates by just 902 votes. Under Pennsylvania law, the vote difference triggers an automatic recount because the leading candidate's margin of victory is 0.5% or less.

 Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz speaks during a campaign event ahead of the upcoming primary elections in Blue Bell, Pa., May 16, 2022.

Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz speaks during a campaign event ahead of the upcoming primary elections in Blue Bell, Pa., May 16, 2022.

Hannah Beier/Reuters, FILE

Amid the fallout, the acting secretary was asked to assess why her state is once again plagued by counting delays in a major election. Chapman pointed to the restrictions election officials face in processing mail and absentee ballots as they come in, which causes a backlog by the time voters cast ballots in person.

"In Pennsylvania, election officials aren't able to pre-canvass ballots until 7 a.m. on election day, so that means they can't even start opening them, you know, separating them from the inner envelope or processing them at all," she said.

"We are asking and the counties are asking -- it's a bipartisan request -- for there to at least be two weeks of time for election officials to pre-canvass and pre-process those ballots to put less strain on them for on Election Day in the days following, so we will be in line with states like Florida, for instance, that have at least three weeks [to pre-process ballots]," she added.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

47. That's the share of Republicans who believe that immigrants are being brought to the country for political gains, according to a poll conducted in December by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. And as FiveThirtyEight's Kaleigh Rogers writes, the pervasiveness of this belief is dangerous because right-leaning politicians and pundits have tried to peddle more mainstream versions of "the great replacement theory," a racist, white supremacist conspiracy theory. But those justifications are built on false assumptions about American demographics and immigration. Read more from Kaleigh on the flawed logic behind the political right's "great replacement" arguments.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Thursday morning with the latest on the Uvalde Texas elementary school shooting from ABC's Matt Gutman and Aaron Katersky. Then, the father of a teacher killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting discusses gun policy and coping after loss. And, Brad Mielke details what we know about the Texas school shooting victims. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a briefing at 3 p.m.
  • Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing about the Department of Education's policies and priorities at 12 p.m.

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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