Tomi Lahren Co-Opts Florida Victims’ Families in Pro-Gun Argument
On the heels of the largest school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012, Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren co-opted the families of those killed in Parkland, Florida in an argument against ‘politicizing’ tragedy by calling for reasonable gun regulation.
“Can the Left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti-gunowner agenda? My goodness. This isn’t about a gun it’s about another lunatic,” she tweeted.
By The Numbers
Lahren’s retort is a common post-mass shooting response delivered by the pro-gun lobby to the point of predictability.
House Speaker Paul Ryan employed a version of it saying, “I don’t think that means you then roll that conversation into taking away citizens’ rights – taking away a law-abiding citizen’s rights. Obviously this conversation typically goes there. Right now, I think we need to take a breath and collect the facts.”
But that’s all we seem to do in the wake of the ever-growing number of mass shootings in and out of American schools. We’re all still holding our breath from the Las Vegas shooting. Many in the LGBTQ community – who were lectured by the larger heterosexual community on their safe spaces and calls for reasonable gun regulation in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub massacre – are still holding their breath going on nearly two years.
Moreover, yesterday’s massacre was the 18th school shooting this year – a year only 45 days old as of the most recent Florida shooting. That number includes accidents, suicides, and shootings near school grounds. There have been more than 300 school shootings since 2013 – an average of one per week.
Suffice to say, very little time exists between shootings to allow “time to grieve” from a national perspective; we’re perpetually jumping from one tragedy to the next as politicians offer ‘thoughts and prayers,’ the NRA and pro-gun advocates shout about politicizing mass shootings, and those who have witnessed or been the victims of gun violence call for action to stop more people from dying.
Increasingly, the gun lobby argument against calls for reasonable gun regulation includes pleas to respect the rights of grieving families in the wake of their loss. But the reality of those families and their reactions doesn’t support that argument.
Many of the families of those killed in Sandy Hook have become gun regulation advocates in the wake of their children needlessly dying (as have the families of other shooting victims throughout the country). Already in the Parkland school shooting, people are speaking out against those attempting to silence the conversation about how to stop gun violence.
In one instance, a teenager named ‘Sarah’ replied to Donald Trump’s “prayers and condolences” tweet calling him out for inaction on gun violence (among other things). The tweet is no longer visible as the account has been made private. When viewable, it said:
“I don’t want your condolences you fucking price of shit, my friends and teachers were shot. Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead. Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won’t fix this. But Gun control will prevent it from happening again.”
The account chaddiedabaddie, which purports to belong to a girl attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Fort Lauderdale, replied: “I don’t want your condolences you f*****g price (sic) of s**t, my friends and teachers were shot.
Sarah’s account has posted a number of tweets relating to Parkland and the school in recent weeks, and she appeared to have attended a Lana Del Rey concert in Florida earlier in February.
After responding to Mr Trump’s message of condolence, she tweeted: “Today has been the worst day of my life. I’ve been crying helplessly for hours. Thank you to everyone for your support. I’m going to try to sleep now.”
Morgan Williams – a student at the school who survived the shooting – said on Twitter:
I cannot stop hearing the sound of the gun as he walked down my hallway. I cannot unsee my classmates who were shot get carried out by police. I cannot unsee the bodies on the floor. Please keep in mind the horror of what we’ve gone through today. #prayfordouglas
— Morgan Williams (@morganw_44) February 15, 2018
Never in a million years did i think i would have EVER gone through this. There is NO reason why i should have had to run past deceased friends and classmates to get to safety because there isn’t a control on how easy it is to get a gun. #stonemandouglas #parkland
— Morgan Williams (@morganw_44) February 14, 2018
Perhaps the best student reaction is one directed at Tomi Lahren for co-opting the lives of survivors in her argument:
A gun has killed 17 of my fellow classmates. A gun has traumatized my friends. My entire school, traumatized from this tragedy. This could have been prevented. Please stfu tomi https://t.co/qNo03ZE3Ev
— kyra (@longlivekcx) February 15, 2018
The Mental Health Argument
While gun advocates like Tomi Lahren express outrage over discussion of sensible gun regulation in the immediate aftermath of mass shootings, they seem fine with discussing mental illness. The hypocrisy of arguing one potential cause of mass shootings can be discussed while another can’t (while using emotional pleas and the lives of gun violence survivors) isn’t just disingenuous, it’s downright despicable.
But even entertaining the ‘mental illness’ angle doesn’t help gun advocates or GOP lawmakers beholden to the NRA – especially after they passed legislation last year to roll back restrictions on severely mentally ill people being able to obtain firearms.
And the shooter in question – 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz – was able to legally obtain the AR-15 he used to slaughter 17 people despite a history of problems his background check didn’t take into account (including being expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for disciplinary issues).
His adoptive mother had even previously called the police on him in an attempt to ‘scare’ him into being a lawful person. Helen Pasciolla – the shooter’s former neighbor – told the New York Times, “I think she wanted to scare them a little bit,” adding “Nikolas has behavioral problems, I think, but I never thought he would be violent.”
Yet he was still able to legally purchase a gun.
If mental illness was to blame, even that isn’t being addressed outside of offers of thoughts and prayers and platitudes about how it’s mental illness, not guns, that killed people (omitting the fact that a person with debilitating mental illness needs access to a gun to carry out such a shooting – something reasonable gun regulation seeks to address).
[Correction: This article originally referred to mainstream reporting that the shooter associated and trained with a Florida-based white nationalist organization. That reporting has since been retracted, so we have removed it from our story.]