How Conservative Media Reacted To Senate Republicans Blocking Stronger Gun Laws

Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

Conservatives in media gloated and launched political attacks in reaction to a coalition of largely Senate Republicans blocking a package of stronger gun laws, including compromise legislation on expanded background checks for gun sales -- a legislative proposal supported by roughly 90 percent of Americans.   

Before, during, and after President Obama delivered a speech from the Rose Garden on April 17 vowing to continue the dialogue on gun laws, conservatives in media offered triumphal comments and launched vicious attacks on advocates for gun violence prevention, including family members of Newtown victims and former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona.

As Politico noted, conservative bloggers "claimed victory ... saying that their ideology and principles were the keys to their success." The right-wing reaction, however, went beyond basic policy arguments:

Jeffrey Scott Shaprio's Washington Times Op-Ed: "I Don't Believe The Families Of The Victims" Of Newtown "Deserve A Vote"

In an op-ed for The Washington Times, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro opined that family members of Newtown victims -- many of whom advocated for the passage of stronger gun laws -- did not deserve to be heard because of his apparent belief that background checks infringe on the Second Amendment. Shapiro previously accused Obama of attempting to implement socialism in a piece for The New American, the magazine publication of the far-right John Birch Society. From Shapiro's April 18 op-ed:

I don't believe the families of the victims from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., deserve a vote.

It may sound harsh and uncaring, but even the greatest tragedies are not a valid reason to disregard the Supreme Court and the Constitution of the United States. If they were, our free speech and our rights against unreasonable search and seizure and against self-incrimination would have all been abolished long ago amid every crime wave in American history.

Five years ago, the Supreme Court settled the issue of the Second Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller, making it clear that guns in "common use" were constitutionally protected. Nevertheless, President Obama recently flew several family members of Sandy Hook victims to Washington on Air Force One to pressure congressional legislators to enact new gun laws.

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds Accused Gun Violence Survivor Giffords Of "Emotional Bullying"

Right-wing blogger Glenn Reynolds, who writes under the pseudonym Instapundit, responded to a Tweet in which Giffords said that the "Senate ignored the will of the people" and added, "Im not giving up," by advising her, "Try more respect and reason, less emotional bullying next time." Giffords, who co-founded a gun violence prevention super PAC, was one of 19 people wounded - six fatally - when a gunman opened fire during a constituent meet-and-greet on January 8, 2011. From Wonkette, which flagged Reynold's tweet:

[Wonkette, accessed 4/18/13]

NRA News Host Compares Background Check Compromise To Cancer

National Rifle Association News host Cam Edwards attempted a play on words by comparing a compromise to expand background checks proposed by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) to a malignant "toomer" that was "skillfully cut out by a team of 54 surgeons":

[Twitter, accessed 4/18/13]

Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin: Obama Is "Hiding Behind The Newtown Parents"

In an April 18 blog post, conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin revived the right-wing canard that Obama is using Newtown victims as props and characterized Obama's Rose Garden speech following the expanded background check bill's failure as an "outburst":

Had a Republican president lashed out as petulantly as President Obama did yesterday after the defeat of the background check amendment, calling his opponents liars and stooges of special interests ("shameful" is a really harsh thing to say about the red-state Dems who jumped ship), the mainstream press would have been all over him. (Out of control! Lost his cool! Unpresidential!) But, because most of the press also was incensed at the defeat of anti-gun legislation, his performance was barely criticized.

[...]

For this outburst, Obama was surrounded by the Newtown parents, which was telling. He put his muscle behind background checks, which even anti-gun crusader Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) admits had nothing to do with Newtown. (To those lefties who retort "So what?" the response is, "Then stop hiding behind the Newtown parents.")

Fox News Contributor Erick Erickson: "We Win. They Lose. The 2nd Amendment Is Safe"

Contrary to more than 50 constitutional scholars who indicated that expanded background checks are permissible under the Second Amendment, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson framed the legislation as a constitutional issue and gloated in an April 17 blog post that "We Win. They Lose." In his piece, Erickson also praised the efforts of Gun Owners of America -- an extremist group whose leader has been linked to white supremacists -- in opposing the background checks compromise:

Today in the Senate, a funny thing happened.

We fought on principle, and we won on principle. You know why?

Because 3 U.S. Senators didn't listen to the "do something" caucus and the hand-wringers parading as leaders in Washington. Instead, Senators Cruz, Lee and Paul circulated a warning prior to the last recess saying they would (gasp) filibuster any legislation that would undermine our God-given, fundamental right to bear arms. It just so happens that this God-given right is enshrined in the Constitution.

We have a play book, ladies and gentleman: fight and win.

Thankfully these fresh faces in the Senate get it.

You know who else gets it? The Gun Owners of America. From the beginning, GOA was standing up tall to defend the Second Amendment on principle -- not in a game of political gamesmanship and endorsements of Democrats. They were crystal clear the whole time and led other groups, some of whom get more attention and prominence in the debate, in their direction.

Fox Radio Reporter Todd Starnes Calls Obama's Rose Garden Speech A "Shameless Sham"

Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes sent a flurry of Tweets after the background check compromise failed where he called Obama's Rose Garden speech a "shameless sham," accused the president of "using human props" and of needing an "an anger management class," while claiming that "the Senate did the will of the people." Referencing the Kermit Gosnell case, Starnes also wrote, "Hey Mr. President -- how about getting angry about those 7 dead babies down in Philadelphia?"

[Twitter, accessed 4/18/13]

[Twitter, accessed 4/18/13]

[Twitter, accessed 4/18/13]

[Twitter, accessed 4/18/13]

[Twitter, accessed 4/18/13]

Washington Times Editorial Board Applauds The NRA For "Protecting The Rights Of All"

The editorial board of The Washington Times thanked the National Rifle Association "which led the fight to protect the rights of all" and characterized the defeat of the background checks compromise as "a resounding victory for the plain and simple language of the Second Amendment." Like other conservatives in media, the Times' April 18 editorial criticized Obama for delivering a speech while joined by Newtown parents and other gun violence survivors who advocated for the background check compromise: 

The president raged. The mayor of New York frothed. Joe Biden cried. But at the end of the day, common sense prevailed. The Senate killed the effort to unreasonably expand background checks for buyers of guns.

The measure is not quite graveyard dead; it can be brought up again, but prospects for that are remote. The vote was a bone-jarring setback for the gun-control lobby, and a decisive victory for the National Rifle Association (NRA), which led the fight to protect the rights of all. It was most of all a resounding victory for the plain and simple language of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

[...]

Shame, indeed, Mr. President. The president spoke from the Rose Garden, with families of the children killed at Newtown arranged around him to make a good photo-op. The shame is how the gun-control advocates have exploited the grief of these families, bearing up under a sadness beyond knowing by the rest of us, using them at every opportunity as props to make a political argument. 

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