School Shootings & Porn Are Somehow Linked, According To This GOP Congresswoman

ByMonica Busch

Pointing to the "deterioration of the family" during a gathering with local pastors recently, a Republican congresswoman linked porn to school shootings. The representative, a Tennessee congresswoman named Diane Black, suggested that the prevalence of pornography has partly contributed to the prevalence of gun violence at U.S. schools.

"It’s available on the shelf when you walk in the grocery store," she told those gathered, according to a recording of her comments posted by HuffPost. "Yeah, you have to reach up to get it, but there’s pornography there. All of this is available without parental guidance. I think that is a big part of the root cause."

Pornography wasn't the only thing she pointed to, however. Along with the wide availability of porn, she also lay the blame partly on "idle hands," violent movies, and unmarried parents.

"Why do we see kids be so violent? What's out there?" she asked attendees. "What makes them do that? I think it's the deterioration of the family, so they're looking for something."

Additionally, Black suggested that young people today suffer from being desensitized to violent images and movies. She, herself, is too squeamish to watch violence, she said. Specifically, she said that she's concerned for her teenage grandchildren who, according to her, watch "blow 'em up" movies without much of a visceral reaction.

"I still can't watch one of those violent movies where people are being blown up — because I'm not desensitized to that," Black said. "I didn't watch that as a kid."

Additionally, Black highlighted mental illness, contending that there are signs when something is "off" with a young person — signs that indicate they may potentially become a school shooter. One of the "signs" she spoke of was a person wearing trench coats in warm weather, alluding to the alleged Santa Fe shooter, who attacked a school less than two weeks ago, leaving 10 dead and at least 10 others wounded.

For many, the trench coat has long been a symbol of school shootings, and the Santa Fe tragedy was no different. In the wake of Santa Fe, Black was not the first to attempt connecting those dots. Days after the shooting, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt suggested on his program that school administrators should consider banning trench coats.

"To the teachers and administrators out there, the trench coat is kind of a giveaway," Hewitt said during a clip from a May 21 episode of Salem Radio Network's The Hugh Hewitt Show, according to Media Matters. "You might just say, 'No more trench coats.' The creepy people, make a list, check it twice."

The trench coat fear stems back to the 1999 Columbine shootings, when two teenage boys in trench coats unleashed unspeakable violence on their high school community. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, incorrect reports circulated, suggesting that the pair were part of a group of students who called themselves the "Trench Coat Mafia." While those reports were later debunked — the Trench Coat Mafia were just a group of students who wore trench coats every day, not directly affiliated with the shooters — the stigma against trench coats did not.

Some schools began enacting dress codes, like the one Hewitt suggested, banning trench coats from campus. As a result, the outerwear garment sustains negative connotations nearly two decades later, sometimes leading to unfair profiling of students based solely on their style of dress.

As for pornography and unmarried parents, those two "warnings" are supposedly reflective of the loss of "family values" that conservative lawmakers often lament. But the truth is that, right now, no one can point to a distinct cause of school shootings. One of the distinctly common factors, gun control advocates argue though, is that each one has been carried out with a firearm.