Radio silence from most Republicans on gun control

As Democrats prepare to push for tougher gun laws, most GOPers have been mum so far

By Jillian Rayfield
December 17, 2012 10:40PM (UTC)
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Gun control is gaining momentum among Democrats following the shootings in Newtown, Conn., with Dianne Feinstein pushing for an assault weapons ban, Frank Lautenberg saying he'll introduce a ban on high-capacity magazines, and even NRA-backed Dem Joe Manchin calling for reform.

But among elected Republicans, so far it's been mostly radio silence.


On Sunday, David Gregory of Meet the Press said that all of the pro-gun rights senators refused to appear on the show. “A note here this morning: We reached out to all 31 pro-gun rights senators in the new Congress to invite them on the program to share their views on the subject this morning,” he said. ”We had no takers.”

And few have addressed the issue since then.

In the immediate aftermath of the shootings on Friday, Republican leadership released statements condemning the violence and offering condolences to the victims and their families.


“We are all crushed by the news of today's horrifying massacre in Newtown. I invite everyone to lift their hearts in prayer for the victims and their families and to unite around the hope that there will soon come a day when parents no longer fear this kind of violence in our nation again," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement:

The horror of this day seems so unbearable, but we will lock arms and unite as citizens, for that is how Americans rise above unspeakable evil.  Let us all come together in God’s grace to pray for the families of the victims, that they may find some comfort and peace amid such suffering.  Let us give thanks for all those who helped get people to safety, and take heart from their example.  The House of Representatives – like every American – stands ready to assist the people of Newtown, Connecticut.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., the incoming chair of the House Republican Conference, said on C-SPAN on Friday that she was "devastated" by the shootings, but had a measured response to questions about gun control. “I think we have to be careful about new, suggesting new gun laws," she said. "We need to look at what drives a crazy person to do these kind of actions and make sure that we’re enforcing the laws that are currently on the books. And yes, definitely, we need to do everything possible to make sure that something like this never happens again.”


Right-wing Rep. Louie Gohmert, for his part, has called for something a little bit different, saying of Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung: "Chris, I wish to God she had had an m-4 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."

Some conservatives have shifted their stance on gun control in the wake of the shootings like Joe Scarborough, who today said on Morning Joe that he thinks its time for politicians to be "forced to defend our children."


"I say good luck to the gun lobbyist, good luck to the Hollywood lawyer who tries to blunt the righteous anger of millions of parents by hiding behind twisted readings of our Bill of Rights," he said.

And Rupert Murdoch has called for an assault weapons ban for the second time, after he first tweeted about it in the wake of the shootings in Aurora, Colo.

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A new poll from ABC News/Washington Post, conducted in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, finds that 54 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws in general.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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