After yet another slaughter of children at a Parkland, Florida school, some of America's biggest enablers of mass murder are beginning to evolve. Or at least pretend to.
President Donald Trump says he'll take it upon himself to ban bump stocks – which convert semiautomatic firearms into machine guns -- after Congress once again languished in inaction.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who had an A+ rating with the NRA, has proposed raising the minimum age to buy any gun from 18 to 21, and making it “virtually impossible” for people who have a history of mental health issues or domestic violence to get access to guns.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, A-rated by the NRA, spoke out against AR-15s on CNN: “Would you feel as though your Second Amendment rights would be eroded because you couldn’t buy a goddamn AR-15?”
And in Minnesota, the DFL’s leading gubernatorial choice, Tim Walz – rated A+ – is trying to distance himself from the gun lobby by reminding everybody that he’s voted repeatedly for universal background checks and against concealed carry reciprocity.
Even Minnesota Congressman Jason Lewis seems to recognize that if you believe in more guns at any cost, it's a good time to lie low.
Lewis was scheduled to headline a fundraiser on Friday with Dr. John Lott, a faux researcher who believes that more guns make people safer, despite pretty much all stats to the contrary.
Senate District 56 Republicans and the Scott County GOP, who organized the event, promoted it as “Celebrating the 2nd Amendment with John Lott and Rep. Jason Lewis."
Lewis is perhaps Minnesota's greatest proponent of anything-goes gun laws. Not long ago, he was boasting of a bill he sponsored that would take away Minnesota's right to say who can and who can't carry a gun within the state.
But Lewis backed out of the event. His office claims the congressman never agreed to make an appearance, much less take center stage.
The event was eventually renamed “Dr. John Lott, Honoring the 2nd Amendment.”
According to Lewis’ office, he wanted to be respectful of Parkland’s victims, and disapproved of anybody “exploiting a tragedy for partisan gain” when the nation “should be grieving for the lost lives.”
On Friday, hundreds of demonstrators held a candlelight vigil outside the Lakeville Arts Center, where the event took place. They wanted elected officials to work on ending mass shootings, rather than “celebrating the legislative spinelessness that enables them.”
Yet some Minnesota politicians who could not be dissuaded from attending a fundraiser with a guy who once made up a fan persona to praise his own pro-gun research. State GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan and Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, were in attendance, taking pictures with other candidates and activists.
Carnahan said she felt it was important for her to support the Scott County GOP and the Senate District 56 Republicans, but she did not stay for Lott's talk.
Johnson did not respond to the vigil or to DFL Chair Ken Martin’s criticism: “It is unthinkable that
Minnesota’s Republican leaders would hold a fundraiser with a controversial pro-gun activist just over a week after the devastating shooting in Parkland. While students mourn, march in the streets, and demand an end to gun violence, the Minnesota GOP is raising money by celebrating the legislative cowardice that perpetuates these tragedies."