ESPN personality Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on Wednesday morning absolutely tore into Republicans after the horrific Uvalde school massacre, calling on them to “shape up, wake up and do something” and blasting them for standing in the way of gun-control legislation.
Following Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary that left at least 19 schoolchildren dead, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr furiously pleaded with GOP leaders to enact a universal background check. “They won’t vote on it because they want to hold onto their own power. It’s pathetic! I’ve had enough,” Kerr shouted before storming out of a pre-game press conference.
And during Wednesday morning’s broadcast of ESPN talk show First Take, an outraged Russo followed up that anger with his own impassioned, take-no-prisoners rant.
“Something is wrong with the United States of America when an 18-year-old on his birthday was out there and buying two assault weapon rifles. In May, 18 years old, can't have a drink in Texas,” Russo began.
Adding that this “doesn’t happen in Britain” or other Western countries because the “gun availability isn’t there,” Russo noted that former President Barack Obama “did everything he could” to get gun control legislation passed following the Sandy Hook massacre but “nobody followed suit.”
Russo made sure to add that he tries to “play it right down the middle” and votes both Democratic and Republican. However, he continued, “Bottom line is in this particular situation, Kerr’s right... It’s about the Republicans in that Senate who are wrapped up with the NRA and all the gun lobbyists and everything else who are afraid… if they get tough here, they are going to get knocked out of office because their states love guns.”
The veteran sports radio host continued: “Even the Second Amendment. What do you think George Washington, Sam Adams, [Thomas] Jefferson, Ben Franklin—what do you think they’re thinking about right now? Do you think they thought this?... This is totally different today! I mean, it’s ridiculous! You’re going to bring up the Second Amendment and you’re going to bring up something that was passed in 1780 and say that applies today? That is absolutely absurd!”
The ESPN pundit further took issue with Texas Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott extending mere “thoughts and prayers” just days before they’re scheduled to attend the National Rifle Association’s annual convention.
“They all voted no on gun control deals in March. They voted no on it,” Russo shouted. “And then all of them yesterday gives me this big deal how we're heartbroken. Well, you had a chance to do something about it and you did nothing! And where are they going on Friday? To the NRA convention in Houston, Texas, for crying out loud! Houston, Texas! It is absolutely absurd. America, shape up, wake up, and do something!”
It is an “absolute disgrace” that “we’ve done nothing” since the Sandy Hook shootings, Russo added, reiterating that Kerr is “100 percent right” that these issues don’t occur in other countries around the world.
Towards the end of his tirade, Russo suggested the only way to get Republicans to pass any meaningful gun-safety legislation is for a Republican president to propose it. At the same time, however, he noted how Donald Trump had a chance after the Parkland mass shooting but “never did it” because “he got sidetracked.”
Russo snarked: “What else is new?”
The sports talker ended his fiery monologue by preemptively pushing back on critics who may find his remarks to be politically biased.
“But this is getting to be much,” Russo exclaimed. “We’re starting off a sports show on this great network and were talking about a kid who slaughtered 18 people? And we’re going to move on our merry way now? And we’re going to show up at that gun lobby thing in Houston on Friday.”
He added: “You should all be ashamed of yourselves. All ashamed! And don’t call me some leftist nutcase. I go both ways!”
Russo’s barn-burning rant aimed at the GOP, meanwhile, may come across as a bit surprising considering that it was just a few weeks ago when his colleague JJ Redick accused him of sounding like Fox News for parroting Laura Ingraham’s “shut up and dribble” mantra about outspoken athletes.