Texas lieutenant governor suggests violent video games, abortion show 'devalued life,' bear part of blame for gun violence

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said, 'We have devalued life.'

May 20, 2018, 11:28 AM

The Texas lieutenant governor, speaking two days after 10 people were killed in a school shooting in his state, said abortion, divorce and violent video games and movies show that 'we have devalued life,' which he pointed to as a cause of school shootings.

Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday, "We have devalued life, whether it's through abortion, whether it's the breakup of families, through violent movies, and particularly violent video games."

Patrick continued, "Psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you that students are desensitized to violence, may have lost empathy for theirvictims by watching hours and hours of video violent games.”

He said, “the problem is multifaceted. It's not any one issue. But we, again, we have to look at our culture of violence, just our violent society, our Facebook, our Twitter, the bullying of adults on adults, and children on children. We have to look at ourselves, George, it's not about the guns, it's about us.”

Stephanopoulos said, “We also have violent video games in other developed countries. We have Twitter and Facebook in other developed countries, so how do you explain [that]… Americans of high school age are 82 times more likely to die of gun homicide than their peers in the rest of the developed world? That has to be connected to the availability of guns, doesn’t it?”

“No it doesn’t have to be,” Patrick said. “I can’t compare one country with another country because there are many variables in all these countries. Here’s what I know. We live in a violent country where we’ve devalued life.”

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick speaks during a press conference about the shooting incident at Santa Fe High School, May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas.
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Republican lieutenant governor also said, “We can't sit back and say, 'It's the gun.' It’s us as a nation, George … On this Sunday morning, when we all go to church and pray or go to synagogue or the mosque or wherever we go, let’s look inward at ourselves as a nation.”

Stephanopoulos asked, “But when we look inward, sir, aren't we going to find that guns are more available here in greater numbers, in greater lethality, than any other developed country in the world?"

“They are, George," Patrick said, "and here's the reality: They are a part of who we are as a nation. It is our Second Amendment.”

"Guns stop crimes,” Patrick added. “If we take the guns out of society -- if you or anyone else thinks that that makes us safer, then I'm sad to say that you're mistaken,” he said. “That will just give those that are evil… [the ability] to put more of us in danger.”

Stephanopoulos also asked Patrick about his comment Friday that “there are too many entrances and too many exits” on school campuses in Texas.

“Yes I’ve been criticized by saying we should have fewer entrances,” Patrick said. “Look, you need all the exits -- fire exits you need. But -- but we should have eyes on students walking into our schools. This student walked in with a gun under a trench coat Friday, and no one in law enforcement stopped him. We can’t guard every entrance of the 8,000-plus schools we have in Texas but we can guard one or two. We have to think out of the box, George.”

Immediately following Patrick on "This Week" came Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was among the 17 people killed in a school massacre earlier this year in Parkland, Florida.

Fred Guttenberg, who's daughter was killed in the Parkland Fla. shooting, speaks during a protest against the National Rifle Association in Dallas, May 5, 2018.
Rex Curry/AP

Guttenberg, who since his daughter's murder has become a gun control activist, slammed Patrick’s remarks as “the most idiotic comments I've heard regarding gun safety.”

“Let me be clear,” Guttenberg said. “He should be removed from office for his failure to want to protect the citizens of Texas. To hear him continue to make the argument after 10 people died in his state that guns are not the issue is simply a crock.”

Eight students and two adults were killed and 13 others injured in a shooting rampage at Santa Fe High School in southeast Texas on Friday morning. A 17-year-old student is the suspect.

Guttenberg, referring to the killing of his daughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, said, “I'm here this weekend at what was supposed to be my daughter's dance recital, where they're honoring my daughter's memory instead of having my daughter dance, and for [Patrick] to make those moronic comments -- unacceptable.”

Appearing with Guttenberg was another parent of a child who died in a school shooting.

Sandy Hook Promise Founder and Managing Director Nicole Hockley speaks onstage during the Fifth Annual Town & Country Philanthropy Summit on May 9, 2018 in New York City.
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Town & Country

Nicole Hockley's 6-year-old son, Dylan, was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School gun massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, 2012. She said she didn’t agree with much of what the Texas lieutenant governor said but does believe the country has “a problem where we devalue life.”

“The fact that this shooting [in Santa Fe, Texas] has not received a significant amount of coverage, that this shooting is not seeing a significant amount of action, to me that is devaluing life itself. There are 10 people who are dead who are not going back to their families,” Hockley said.

“That’s what we need to be focusing on, and it’s not about religion, it’s not about values," Hockley said. "It’s about guns, and it’s about people… We also need to think about what do we need to do to stop people before they ever reach the point of picking up a firearm with the intent of hurting themselves or someone else, and that’s not about school security, that’s about prevention.”

“Nicole’s 100 percent right,” said Guttenberg. “This is not just about guns, it’s not just about school safety, it’s not just about mental health, it’s everything. And the problem is when these shootings happen, the crowd that doesn’t want to blame guns -- they want to talk about everything else but guns. Folks like Nicole and I, we want to talk about all of it, because to solve this problem, you must.”

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