Photo: AP

During a meeting last week with local pastors, Representative Diane Black, a Republican from Tennessee who’s running for governor, found an innovative new scapegoat for the United States’ gun violence epidemic: pornography.

Black said pornography, apparently in printed form, is a “big part of the root cause” of gun violence, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by HuffPost and published Tuesday.

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“Pornography. It’s available. It’s available on the shelf when you walk in the grocery store. Yeah, you have to reach up to get it, but there’s pornography there,” she said. “All of this is available without parental guidance. And I think that is a big part of the root cause.”

Here’s the full context of Black’s remarks, in which she also blamed violent movies and the “deterioration of the family” for why we can’t stop mass shootings in this country (emphasis added):

How many of you, when you were in school, ever had an experience where a kid came to school with a gun and shot up the school? Never. Never! Never happened. So we said, why? There are not any more guns, but why is that happening? Why do we see kids being so violent? What’s out there? What makes them do that? Because as a nurse, I go back to the root cause, and I think it’s a couple things.

I think it’s deterioration of the family. They don’t have that good support system, so they’re looking for something, and where are they looking? They’re looking for areas—what did they say about, idle hands are the devil’s workshop? So they’re looking for something, maybe on the internet, maybe with a small group of friends, and they’re going in the wrong direction.

Violent movies. I mean, today I still cannot watch one of those violent movies where people are being blown up because I’m not desensitized to that. I didn’t watch that when I was a kid. And now my grandchildren that are 15 and 16, they will watch those kind of movies. And I’ll call my daughter: “I am really concerned that they’re watching those movies.”

[...]

Pornography. It’s available. It’s available on the shelf when you walk in the grocery store. Yeah, you have to reach up to get it, but there’s pornography there. All of this is available without guns. And I think that is a big part of the root cause.

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First, let’s correct Black’s blatantly ridiculous claim that “there are not any more guns” today than there were 10, 20, or 30 years ago. In just a three-year span, from 2010 to 2013, the number of guns manufactured in the U.S. nearly doubled—from 5.5 million to 10.9 million.

Next, let’s quickly run through just a handful of the myriad excuses Republicans have found to blame for mass shootings—aside from, you know, the weapons used to carry out those shootings:

Aside from the inane whataboutism of Black’s comments, I would like to know what grocery store she shops at. I can’t recall the last time I saw hardcore pornography at the grocery store. Perhaps it was the latest issue of Southern Living or Food Network Magazine that upset Black’s refined sensibilities. But man, wait until she finds out about the internet.