Adding Insult To Tragedy

In the wake Of the Oregon Massacre, Republican presidential candidates offer insults, excuses, and empty promises.

In Wake Of Oregon Massacre, Republican Presidential Candidates Offer Insults, Excuses, And Empty Promises

The United States suffered its 45th school shooting this year last week at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The tragedy prompted a particularly emotional and frustrated response from President Obama, a resurgence of outrage and calls to action from advocates, and significant proposals for legislative and executive action. Indeed, despite the daily tragedy of gun violence in this country, it feels like this has struck a particular chord with the American people.

The strong reaction and calls for action, however, are not universal. Instead of joining the overwhelming majority of Americans in calling for common-sense gun safety reforms that would save lives, a number of Republican presidential candidates have solidified their out-of-touch, anti-gun safety stances. Some, in their rush to cater to an extreme right-wing base, have resorted to victim-blaming. Here is what some of the candidates have had to say in the wake of the tragedy in Oregon:

  • Former Gov. Jeb Bush shrugs away calls for gun safety reform by saying, “stuff happens.” “I had this challenge as governor,” Jeb said on the campaign trail. “Look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.” The “stuff” that “happened” when Jeb Bush was Governor of Florida? He passed the nation’s first Stand Your Ground law, and soon after murder rates in the state went from below the national average to above it.
  • Dr. Ben Carson makes outlandish, insulting comparisons and blames the victims of the Oregon massacre. In a Facebook Q & A yesterday, Carson said, “I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.” Later, in an interview on Fox News, Carson intimated that the victims were responsible for not stopping their attacker, claiming “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me.” The neurosurgeon clearly does not have his head screwed on straight.
  • Gov. John Kasich parrots gun lobby talking points instead of calling for reforms. The National Rifle Association often blames mental health for mass shootings instead of acknowledging the deadly role that guns play (they’ve also tweeted some indefensible things in the days since the shooting). Yesterday, Gov. John Kasich did the same, stating his belief that mass shootings are caused not by easy access to guns but by “alienation” and “loneliness.” Maybe Kasich can show America has a loneliness rate that is 20 times higher than peer nations, like our gun murder rate is.
  • Gov. Bobby Jindal blames the Oregon Shooting on abortion, movies, and absent dads. Jindal penned a strongly-worded blog post on his campaign website blaming the tragedy on the “cultural decay” of American society: Things like abortion, video games, movies, music, nontraditional family structures, and absent fathers. “Our families are a complete mess,” he wrote. Jindal also took time to blame the shooter’s father, who railed against weak gun laws in the United States after finding out that his son had killed so many people.

BOTTOM LINE: In the wake of such a tragedy, we must remember that our society can change. There are common-sense steps we can take to strengthen gun safety laws, reduce gun violence, and still protect the Second Amendment. Shame on these candidates for their hurtful, ignorant, and cowardly reactions to an issue that is within their and other elected officials’ control to fix.

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