With the Orlando Pulse nightclub tragedy that took the lives of 49 innocent people dominating headlines, both proponents for and against gun control heavily reiterated their opinions on the matter this week. One of those against any sort of gun control laws is Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who used a rather odd comparison to try to validate his point.
Johnson told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer earlier this week that because automatic machine guns are already banned, no other restrictions are needed. This comment immediately caught Blitzer’s attention, leading him to ask Johnson to clarify his opinion since the Orlando shooter managed to inflict the second most deadly terrorist attack in United States history with a semi-automatic assault rifle.
“The AR-15 that was used in this terror attack, killing 49 people, you wouldn’t describe that as an assault weapon?” Blitzer asked. “You’re differentiating between that and a fully automatic assault weapon? Because that weapon certainly did kill a lot of people.”
Johnson then chimed in with this nugget of wisdom:
“So do bombs. So there are other ways that terrorists can slaughter people.”
That’s true Ron, bombs can be used to slaughter people. So can tanks, bazookas, mustard gas, and the atom bomb. Thankfully, all of these weapons are… regulated, the very thing you’re arguing against & that’s the whole point. One would hope that Johnson (who is a chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee) would understand how bad this comparison was, but instead, he charged forward with all the same narrow rhetoric you would expect from a conservative Senator. Logic be damned.
Johnson went on to blame the tragedy on the ideology of the radical Islamic terrorists. “Their ideology calls for the slaughter of innocents,” said Johnson. “That’s the root cause. It’s not law-abiding gun owners that are the problem here, it’s Islamic terrorists.”
Few would argue that ISIS and its followers aren’t a dangerous threat that needs to be stopped. But why make it easier for them to carry out these senseless acts of violence? Will Johnson use the same bomb rhetoric when the next mass shooting happens, not by a radicalized Islamic militant, but by a troubled white man from Anytown, USA? Or will mental illness be the only problem there?
Many senators are resistant to challenge gun laws, but some are so rigid in their stance that it can ,at times, defy logic. Republican Andy Holt (who serves in the Tennessee General Assembly) made headlines two days ago when he received death threats for refusing to cancel a raffle that would give away two assault rifles of the same model used in the Orlando massacre. Holt defended critics who said the raffle was in poor taste by shifting focus away from the weapon. “We should not focus on the gun itself,” said Holt. “We should focus on the depravity of the heart of the person who’s pulling the trigger.”
The NRA, an organization who’s initial goal was to teach marksmanship in the 1970’s has shifted into a political machine built around perpetuating the misbelief that our founding fathers forbid any gun control. A “reality” that simply isn’t true. We have always had gun laws in this country. In an old & simple example of this: men were legally required to turn their guns into the sheriff upon entering a saloon in the Old West. In 1880, in Tombstone, Arizona, they knew that guns didn’t always equal public safety – a fact we seem determined to ignore in 2016.