New House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in his first interview as speaker that now is not the time to discuss legislation to address the scourge of mass shootings, adding: “The problem is the human heart, not guns.”
Since no other civilized country on the planet has massacres like this, Johnson is implicitly arguing that the problem isn’t the human heart, but the American heart.
Or, maybe the problem is the fact that America is the only country where military-grade assault rifles are not just legal, but legally obtainable by mentally ill angry men like this lunatic in Maine.
Either we are the worst people on the planet, or we have the worst gun laws.
Why it matters: President Biden and Democrats in Congress are urging action in the wake of the shooting in Lewiston, Maine that left 18 people dead. Johnson argued that it was inappropriate to discuss gun control “in the middle of the crisis,” and that he believes, “it’s not the weapon, it’s the underlying problem.”
This “now is not the time” argument gets trotted out by Republicans after each and every gun massacre. Right after their tweets offering “thoughts and prayers”. Bullshit. The aftermath of a massacre is the time to demand sane gun control measures. That’s when the issue is clarified. Would Republicans argue that October 8 was “not the right time” for Israel to discuss Hamas terrorism? Was September 12, 2001 “not the right time” to discuss Al-Qaeda? Should FDR have delivered an address to the nation on December 8, 1941, advising that we relax, let cooler heads prevail, because the aftermath of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor “was not the time” to consider retaliating?
Imagine a Venezuelan refugee illegally crosses the U.S.-Mexico border next week and kills 18 U.S. citizens with a bomb he carried across. Would Hannity have a guest on Fox News — say, Mike Johnson — arguing that “now is not the time, in the middle of the crisis, to talk about border security”?
Our emotional responses to these massacres are valid. Strike while the iron, and our blood, is running hot. Let our emotions fuel the urgency of our attempts to respond with overwhelmingly popular gun control legislation, and let Republicans head into elections in two weeks opposing them.
★ Friday, 27 October 2023