UPDATED: For these prominent conservatives, guns and religion are the closest thing America has to a panacea
Before the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School took place, two things were predictable: that another mass killing was inevitable, given the increase in their frequency over the past year, and the fact that no measures had been taken to prevent them; and that right-wingers would see in such a dreadful event an opportunity to promote their paranoid vision of a perfect America as one where every citizen is armed to the teeth, and trembling in awe of their vengeful God
The bodies of the 27 people — most of them children between the ages of six and seven — killed by Adam Lanza on Friday, December 14, had yet to be returned to their families when the right-wing noise machine went into gear, blaming public education and a purported dearth of firearms for the tragedy.
Yet, even as right-wing pundits continued to name gun control as a reason that the killer took so many lives, producers at NBC’s Meet the Press were unable to get a single pro-gun senator to appear on the show the Sunday after the tragedy. All 31 gun-loving senators who will have seats in the new Congress were invited, according to executive producer Betsy Fischer Martin.
Here we offer five examples of the stunning lack of compassion and twisted logic expressed by right-wing leaders in response to a slaughter of children by the son of a gun enthusiast.
1. Ann Coulter: Everybody should carry a concealed firearm. The killings took place in the morning, and by 11:07 a.m., Ann Coulter, the publicity seeker whose big, bad mouth gives the little black dress a bad name, was touting concealed-carry laws as the answer to America’s massacre problem. Coulter’s first tweet on the subject came so soon after the killings, that there was no definitive count yet of the number of people who had perished: ”Only one policy has ever been shown to deter mass murder: concealed-carry laws. - bit.ly/VGDNBo”
Well, that seemed to do the trick for a woman who never found a tragedy she couldn’t exploit, for by 11:30, she tweeted this: “I’m on Hannity radio today, talking about the 1 public policy that provably reduces the incidence of, and deaths from, mass shootings.”
And that, boys and girls, is how to work the Twitter machine for self-promotion on the backs of slaughtered children.
It’s not the first time that Coulter has expressed her love for guns in the wake of murder. At a Florida church in 2007, I heard Coulter describe the assassination of a doctor who performed abortions as “a procedure performed on him with a rifle.”
2. Mike Huckabee: Massacre the result of church-state separation.Apparently, former Arkansas governor and pastor Mike Huckabee thinks that if only the Constitution had been rewritten to allow for the mandatory worship of his God in public schools, the massacre would not have happened. It’s unclear from Huckabee’s remarks, made on the Fox News Channel’s Your World show (Huckabee also has his own show on the cable channel), whether he was saying that if only killer Adam Lanza had gotten religion during his public school education, he wouldn’t have killed, or if Huckabee was suggesting that God was punishing a public school for not allowing organized worship in the classroom.
“We ask why there is violence in our schools but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” Huckabee told host Neil Cavuto. “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”
Media Matters has the clip.
3. Bryan Fischer: God let massacre happen in public school because he’s not wanted there. Bryan Fischer, the noxious radio-show host and spokesperson for the anti-gay hate group known as the American Family Association, put the blame for the massacre squarely on the Supreme Court, which outlawed organized public school prayer in 1962, as seen in this clip captured by Right Wing Watch.
“I think God would say to us, ‘Hey, I’d be glad to protect your children, but you’ve got to invite me back into your world first,’” Fischer told his listeners. “‘I’m not gonna go where I’m not wanted; I am a gentleman.’” Fischer continued in his imagined voice of God. So much of a gentleman is Fischer’s God that the Almighty would await an invitation before rushing in to protect 20 children from being gunned down. Thank goodness the police and firefighters who responded were so terribly rude.
4. Glenn Beck: Killings caused by soul problems. Taking to his Twitter stream, Glenn Beck was quick to tweet, at 12:24 p.m.: “Our communities are suffering and it is because of the ever expanding lack of self control & personal responsibility.”
Tweeter Val Farrelly replied: “It’s nothing to do with self control and everything to do with a lack of gun control.”
Another Beck gem about the shootings: “It is not the gun. It is the soul.”
5. Steve Deace: Killings caused by widespread child-murder by parents and a school assignment in France. The right-wing radio talker took to his Facebook page the day of the shootings to attribute them to a “culture of death” for which he used, as evidence, deceptively packaged examples, including “asking kids to write suicide notes in schools” and “allowing and subsidizing parents killing 4,000 of their own children each day.”
I Googled “suicide note school assignment” and found one example – in France. Since Deace had published a blog post about the French story on his Web site, it’s safe to assume that’s what he was referencing, and it’s difficult to see the impact that would have had on a killer who attended school in Connectict.
For Deace’s assertion of 4,000 killings of children by their parents per day, we could find no evidence.
The radio personality also claimed that children are taught that “there is no God, and thus their lives have no real purpose.” Right Wing Watch has the report.
6. Larry Pratt: Making schools gun-free zones caused the problem. The executive director of Gun Owners of America, a far-right group allied with the militia movement, makes a leap of logic by claiming that because the massacre happened in an school designated as a “gun-free zone,” that the absence of guns in Sandy Hook Elementary School must have caused the problem.
Despite the fact that Pratt once addressed a group of white supremacists and advocated for the creation of militias in the U.S. based on the model of anti-communist Guatemalan death squads, the USA Today Web site gave Pratt a big megaphone to its millions of unique viewers (23 million in May 2011, according to the company’s media kit), the day after the Sandy Hook tragedy, in the opinion section of the site.
There, Pratt asserts:
Hopefully, the Connecticut tragedy will be the tipping point after which a rising chorus of Americans will demand elimination of the gun-free zone laws that are in fact criminal-safe zones.
One measure of insanity is repeating the same failure time after time, hoping that the next time the failure will turn out to be a success. Gun-free zones are a lethal insanity.
As AlterNet reported in 2010, Pratt told a rally of gun owners at the Washington Monument that the Oklahoma City bombing was but a battle in a war between the citizens and the government. (He cited the assault on David Koresh’s compound by federal law enforcement in Waco, Texas, as evidence of a purported war on citizens by the government. As we reported in April 2010, Pratt continued his rally speech, saying:
We’re in a war. The other side knows they’re at war, because they started it. They’re comin’ for our freedom, for our money, for our kids, for our property. They’re comin’ for everything because they’re a bunch of socialists.
Shame on USA Today for publishing Pratt as some kind of expert. Guess they couldn’t find a Ku Klux Klan official.
7. Louie Gohmert: If only Sandy Hook principal had an assault rifle, everyone would have been saved. Speaking to host Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, the Republican congressman from Texas let loose with this, as transcribed by the Huffington Post:
“Chris, I wish to God she had had an M4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out … and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” Gohmert said.
The M4 is the rifle favored by the U.S. military; you can view its specs on the site of its manufacturer, Colt. Yeah, that’ll fix everything.
Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington correspondent. More Adele M. Stan.
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