CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota on Wednesday went to bat against a Texas state Republican over the legislature's unwillingness to protect children from gun violence when it has eagerly protected the lives of the "unborn" with sweeping abortion restrictions.
"What we want to know is what your solution is," Camerota told state Rep. James White in an interview "We've all seen how quickly and creatively Texas – your local legislature – can act when it wants to, say, protect the unborn embryo. Why not act with that alacrity to protect living, breathing 10-year-olds in this school behind me?"
Camerota was referencing Tuesday's school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where nineteen children and two adults were murdered by an 18-year-old Salvador Ramos with two semi-automatic assault rifles, which he acquired in the state legally.
"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?"
Responding to Camerota's question, White said, "We have this thing called the Constitution."
"What we really need to be looking at is – whether it's in Buffalo, whether it's in Uvalde – is these young men, for some reason, that have some very disturbed emotional state," White added. "We need to look at our mental health system."
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White's comments fall in line with the Republican talking point that gun violence can be curbed with stronger mental health programs, which incidentally, the GOP have historically gutted. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, for instance, recently refused to expand Medicaid, limiting mental healthcare options for seniors and low-income Americans.
"There's no evidence there's a mental health issue here sir," CNN co-host Victor Blackwell pushed back. "The governor has said there is no known connection to mental health illness."
Being "deranged is a state of mental health," White argued.
"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.
Later in the interview, White offered the apparent solution that Texas lawmakers would "convict" and "punish" perpetrators of mass violence like Ramos, suggesting that the threat of jail time would adequately preclude more shootings.
But Camerota interrupted the legislator, pointing out that Ramos can't be convicted because "he was killed."
"He was killed, along with nineteen children in the school behind me," she added.
While Texas has been loath to pass any meaningful gun reform, it has been incredibly productive in demolishing reproductive rights. Last September, the state instituted a near-total abortion ban that prohibits abortion after six weeks into pregnancy, well before many people know they are even pregnant.