In the wake of one of the largest mass shooting body counts in U.S. history, I expect lots of the NRA’s pet GOPers will be lying low if Rep. Ann Wagner’s (R-2) response is any indication. She opened her email constituent newsletter today with a brief nod in the direction of the massive overnight slaughter of concert goers in Las Vegas. In the process, she scored a rightwing trifecta. She addressed gun violence without mentioning guns, shifted the attention to “first responders,” rather than victims, and managed to get the flag into the mix. She hit all the major pander points and avoided the real issue, all in just three casual sentences:
As the tragedy in Las Vegas continues to unfold, my prayers are with the victims and families impacted by this senseless act of violence. Were it not for the swift and heroic actions of first responders and everyday Americans, this horrific moment could have been even worse. Here at the Capitol, flags are at half-staff in memory of the victims of this tragedy.
It’s probably wise, though, that Wagner keep her profile low when assault weapons such as the automatic or semi-automtic weapon that officials tell us were used in the Las Vegas masacre are involved. A ban on the sale of such weapons expired in 2004, ten years after its adoption in 1994, after having survived numerous constitutional challenges. Since then, there have been several efforts to renew the ban, all of which have been deep-sixed by the NRA via its GOP congressional proxies – including Ann Wagner.
I don’t know about you, but expressions of condolence and dismay about “senseless acts of violence” from sanctimonious hypocrites like Wagner, one of the very people who helped put instruments of violence in the hands of terrorists and the mentally ill make me want to spit.
Speaking of wanting to spit, Wagner’s circumspection mirrors that of White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Saunders who brushed off questions about what we can do to stem gun violence by indicating that “it would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all of the facts or what took place last night.”
What’s that? We don’t know what took place last night? Somebody tell Huckabee Sanders that automatic or semi-automatic guns were used to kill over 50 people and wound over 500 more. If now is not the time to discuss policy, when will it be time? How big does the kill have to be?
While you’re at it, tell Ann Wagner that refusing to use the word “gun” or assault weapon” won’t alter the facts. If she really has concern for those first responders she praises, she’d be willing to do something about the proliferation of automatic weapons that put them in special jeopardy. I have already accepted the fact that it may be too much to ask that she show concern for the rest of us.
Nor does it help to resort, as Huckabee Sanders did, to tired and long-discredited NRA pivots that are commonly used to distract our attention from the pertinent topic. She actually had the effrontery to suggest that we know that regulating guns is ineffective because Chicago has strict gun laws and still has violent crime – while ignoring the gun-flush jurisdictions that surround and supply guns to the city, the so-called iron pipeline that enables the violence endemic to many impoverished U.S. cities.
Things we actually do know about the issue at hand right now: Guns enable violence like nothing else. Reasonable regulation of guns does not necessarily impinge on 2nd amendment rights. Gun regulations need to be national in scope if they are to be effective (no more iron-pipelines). Assault weapons have no place in civilian life; they are for killing, not hunting, or casual self-protection. Some people, suspected terrorists, the mental unstable, felons, should not be able to buy guns at all.
Lawmakers are accessories to crime if they refuse to acknowledge these facts and do what is necessary to keep us safe because they’re afraid to alienate extremist gun nuts or they love the handouts they get from the NRA . Everyone of them has blood on their hands.
Lowering the flag to half mast is a nice gesture of respect, but it doesn’t address the needs of Americans who have been put at risk by pandering politicians like Ann Wagner