Opinion | Single moms cause mass shootings? One more cheap shot in the guns debate.

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Appearing on “Fox News Sunday” this week, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks (R) attributed mass shootings in the United States to a decline in moral values ​​— and he pointed to single-parent families as a major factor in the phenomenon.

“Those single-parent households,” Brooks asserted, “end up resulting in children who are more likely to be on welfare; who are less likely to get the kind of grades you expect to get in school; who are more likely to be involved in drugs; and who are, unfortunately, are more likely to be involved in criminal conduct.”

On a previous occasion, Brooks said the Texas massacre “reflects poorly on liberal policies that encourage out-of-wedlock childbirth, divorce, single-parent households and amoral values ​​that undermine respect for life.”

Brooks is in a tight runoff in the GOP Senate primary in Alabama. He clearly will say and do anything for ink, so it comes as no surprise that he would resort to slurring single mothers and their “children who are more likely to be on welfare.” It follows, in Brooks’s telling, that those children are the ones most likely to be caught up in mass shootings.

Except Brooks is focusing on a target of convenience.

“Out-of-wedlock childbirth” plus “single-parent household” equals “mass murder”? Only in the congressman’s distorted view.

The record, shamefully long in the United States, defies such a formulaic explanation.

Eighteen-year-old white supremacist Payton Gendron, charged with killing 10 people on May 14 at a supermarket he targeted in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, lived with his intact family in a three-story house with a backyard pool, in a small, majority-White suburb of Binghamton. Both parents are civil engineers for the state of New York.

Stephen Paddock’s 2017 rampage in Las Vegas is recorded as the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in American history, with 60 dead and hundreds more wounded. Paddock was no young, welfare-dependent product of a broken home. He was a 64-year-old, twice-divorced former auditor and real estate businessman.

What about Omar Mateen, the 29-year-old man who on June 12, 2016, killed 49 people and wounded at least 53 more in a mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando? A child on welfare caught up in criminal conduct? Not hardly.

Mateen trained to be a prison guard for the Florida Department of Corrections but flunked out. He also tried and failed to become a state trooper. He was working as a security guard and had an active firearms license, an active security officer license, had passed a psychological test, and had no criminal record. At the time of the shooting, Mateen was married with a young son. Oh, yes, reportedly in a 911 call made shortly after the shooting began, Mateen swore allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State.

Perhaps Brooks would point to Dylann Roof, the white supremacist facing the death penalty after being found guilty of the murder of nine Black church members in Charleston, SC Roof was born to parents who had divorced but were temporarily reconciled when he was born. His father divorced his biological mother and married a woman who essentially raised Roof and his older sister. His father and stepmother were together for 10 years before a divorce was filed in 2009, leaving Roof with his father.

Brooks might also note that the parents of Adam Lanza, who in 2012 slaughtered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., were divorced and that Lanza lived with his single mother. But beyond that the story doesn’t match Brooks’s template. Lanza also shot and killed his mother, a former stock broker and gun collector who lived in a colonial-style home on two acres. She had enough resources not to “have to work another day in her life,” according to the Hartford Courant.

I’m trying to figure out how Patrick Crusius fits into Brooks’s picture. The 21-year-old man from Allen, Tex., allegedly killed 23 people and injured 23 others in El Paso in 2019 in what is described as the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern US history.

Crusius’s parents, Lori Lynn Crusius and John Bryan Crusius — a mental health counselor — issued a statement following the shooting placing blame on outside influences.

“Patrick’s actions were apparently influenced and informed by people we do not know, and from ideas and beliefs we do not accept or condone. He was raised in a family that taught love, kindness, respect and tolerance — rejecting all forms of racism, prejudice, hatred, and violence.” Crusius’s grandparents, with whom he was living while attending a nearby college, made a statement saying they were “devastated.” Any “amoral values” lurking around there, or did I miss something?

And now comes Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old gunman who last month killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex. As with so much that has come out about the massacre, accounts of Ramos and his family should be approached with caution.

A loner, troubled, antisocial youth? Estranged parents? Living with grandparents? Relatives with criminal background? Maybe “yes” to all four. But too soon to be pigeonholed into Brooks’s blanket stereotype.

Mass shooters have no single profile but share one common condition — they have guns and a willingness to use them.

Needed now: more actions on gun safety, fewer slandering cheap shots.

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