CNN host Alisyn Camerota asked a Republican state lawmaker Wednesday why the Texas legislature won't apply the same gusto it used to ban abortions on protecting living children from gun violence.
Interviewing Texas state Rep. James White in the wake of a horrific mass shooting Tuesday at an Uvalde elementary school, Camerota asked the lawmaker to propose a solution.
"And the reason I ask is because we've all seen how quickly and creatively Texas ― your local legislature ― can act when it wants to, say, protect the unborn embryo," she said.
"Why not act with that alacrity to protect living, breathing 10-year-olds in this school behind me?"
"Use that same blueprint that you used for your abortion law. Make there be waiting periods, make them have to come back to the scene more than once. Make them have to answer questions. Why can't you protect living 10-year-olds?"
"Let me tell you why we have not taken that approach consistent with the legislation you brought up as it relates to innocent unborn life in the womb," White replied. "Because we have this thing called the Constitution."
He said "these young men for some reason have some very disturbed emotional state" and "we need to look at our mental health system."
"There's no evidence there's a mental health issue here sir," CNN's Victor Blackwell, who was also present for the segment, shot back. "The governor has said there is no known connection to mental health illness."
White argued that "deranged is a state of mental health."
"We always look at the firearms. But at the end of the day, we're gonna look at the people who do these acts, we're gonna convict them, and we're gonna punish them," White said.
The shooter that killed 19 elementary school children and two teachers at Robb Elementary on Tuesday is dead. He was shot by responding officers.
"Sir, you can't convict him," Camerota. said. "He was killed. Along with 19 children in the school behind me."
Blackwell then noted that White had recommended that school buildings don't have too many entrance and exit points after a mass shooting in 2018 at the Santa Fe High School in Houston.
"This is what you [recommended] four years ago. Is that really the totality of what should happen to protect students in schools?"
White replied that "I don't know the architecture or the layout at the elementary school in Uvalde." Then he argued that "you can have a building that is secure and at the same time you can have a building that nurtures learning and compassion." It's unclear what he meant by this or what solution he was proposing.
While elected Republicans have been quick to blame anything from mental illness to architecture to fatherlessness after mass shootings, the research is clear: The U.S. has more mass shootings compared to all other developed countries because of its tremendous number of guns, types of guns allowed and weak controls over buying them.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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