Two Louisiana leaders find themselves in the center of the debate over what to do about our nation’s all-too-common mass shootings. Both Republican U.S. Sen. John Kennedy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise are often featured in national media interviews about the topic. Both men seem unwilling to budge or compromise on the issue of preserving the Second Amendment.
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Kennedy, interviewed last week on Fox News, had a simple message to activists seeking to restrict Second Amendment rights. If you claim gun control will make us safer, prove it.
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“Some of my colleagues argue further curtailing our Second Amendment rights that they can enhance public safety. Fine. The burden of proof is on them. I’m willing to have that debate, but I want the bacon without the sizzle. No speculation, no false comfort, and no pulling stuff out of your orifices. Show me causal scientific evidence that mass shootings are going to be reduced or prevented,” Kennedy recently told Fox News during a television interview on the topic of gun rights.
Kennedy says law-abiding gun owners refusing to relinquish their right to bear arms are often blamed for mass shootings. He says that’s unfair.
“When a jihadist blows up a school, we are told don’t blame all Muslims for the act of one. And I agree with that. How come the same rule doesn’t apply to the hundreds of millions of Americans who chose to exercise their constitutional rights?” asked Kennedy.
Kennedy argued new gun control laws won’t impact those who already break the law.
“Let me tell you a secret,” Kennedy told Fox News anchor Martha MacCullum. “Criminals obey gun laws like politicians keep promises.”
Kennedy, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says one way to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people is to update the current federal gun database.
“There are holes in the gun database you can drive a Humvee through,” Kennedy says.
Kennedy claims states often refuse to send the feds information about citizens with mental health problems for fear of breaking federal law that protects medical records especially for patients with mental illness.
Last month, there were four mass shootings — one each in Odessa, Midland, and El Paso, Texas and in Dayton, Ohio killing a total of 53 people and wounding 79 others.
But Scalise, a victim of gun violence himself, is not caving to the pressure for more gun control.
Some blamed President Donald Trump, a Republican, for last month’s recent mass shooting in El Paso. The gunman was reportedly a fan of the president. Scalise rejects the argument Trump is to blame.
“To try to assign blame to somebody else is, I think, a very slippery slope,” Scalise recently said on CBS's “Face the Nation,” appearing just before U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on the show. “The president is no more responsible for that shooting as your next guest, Bernie Sanders, is for my shooting. He’s not, by the way, responsible. The shooter is responsible.”
Scalise’s shooter was a fan of Sanders and even volunteered for his presidential campaign. Despite Scalise absolving Sanders of any blame for motivating his shooter, the Vermont senator did not do the same for the president and what motivated the El Paso gunman.
“He (Trump) creates a climate where we are seeing a significant increase in hate crimes in this country,” Sanders said. “He’s creating the kind of divisiveness in this nation that is the last thing we should be doing."
Both Kennedy and Scalise understand most voters in Louisiana are pro-Second Amendment. Even Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, says he favors preserving gun rights.
Don’t look for any restrictions on gun rights at the state level in Louisiana anytime soon. But on the federal level, pressure is mounting. Yet Kennedy and Scalise seem unfazed by it and appear determined to preserve the Second Amendment.
“I believe love is the answer, but I also own a handgun just in case. That’s my right. The bill of rights is not an a la cart menu,” said Kennedy.
Email Dan Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org.