Within hours of another deadly mass shooting at another school in the United States—the only country where this happens regularly—conservative bile spewer Laura Ingraham appeared on Fox News not just to defend, but to praise the AR-15 rifle that helped a young gunman kill 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
“It didn’t take him long to get right to gun control,” Ingraham said, a snide reference to Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy’s calls to finally rein in America’s gun problem.
She then asked the most useless rhetorical question one could ask, and yet is the thrust of every conservative talking point about gun control: “Is this a problem with the gun or the shooter?” (Hint: You can actually address both, and should, but whatever. Let’s move on.)
“Let’s take a look at the gun, the AR-15, what makes it so popular and, overwhelmingly, what makes it so safe—what it takes to get one,” she continued.
Ingraham then introduces her guest, a “security and counterterror expert” by the name of Aaron Cohen, but not before launching into a quick brag break about her proficiency and experience with guns, telling viewers that she’s shot gun since she was 6 years old. This, of course, qualifies her to discuss gun control policy much in the same way that someone whose sole qualification of eating McDonald’s cheeseburgers since they were 6 years old qualifies them to steer conversations around obesity and food and health policy.
Again, moving on.
“It’s like all weapons,” Ingraham continued. “It’s very dangerous in the hands of the wrong person. And if you’re not trained, and if you have a criminal disposition, a violent disposition, it can be turned into a killing machine. But Chris Murphy wants to make this tonight all about the weapons.”
To be fair, a person with a violent disposition can certainly turn a meat cleaver, a shank or a pot of hot grits into a killing machine. That person would also amass a far lower body count. In 2016, a man in China broke into a school and stabbed 10 children before turning the knife on himself. He was the only casualty—all the children survived.
Meanwhile, the AR-15, as HuffPost notes, was developed for battle and “specifically designed to kill people as efficiently as possible.” By USA Today’s count, the AR-15 has also been the weapon of choice for eight deadly mass shootings in the last three years. It was used in Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn.; at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Fla.; in San Bernardino, Calif.; and in Las Vegas.
A gun expert told USA Today that the “bad rap” the rifle receives is likely due to “copycat” killers buying the gun after seeing it featured prominently in these shootings. But it should also be noted that it’s not terribly difficult to get these weapons: According to a 2016 article from The Tab, a 20-year-old man with an expired license was able to purchase an AR-15 in 20 minutes.
In Florida, for example, while buyers are supposed to pass a background check, there is no waiting period to purchase the AR-15; nor must a user register the gun. As more details about the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, emerge, it’s clear that his school identified him as a threat: At one point, he wasn’t allowed to bring a backpack to campus, one math teacher said, and he was eventually expelled. He also appears to have been a domestic abuser, but was never hit with any charges.
A violent disposition—but one that would pass the background checks that Florida requires.
Outside of the Fox News universe, students and faculty from Douglas High literally begged lawmakers and President Donald Trump to take action:
Ingraham, like much of her ilk, wasn’t concerned with listening to these students and educators who just witnessed their classmates, their students and their colleagues mowed down in another gruesome act of violence. While Ingraham was praising the AR-15, a smudged gray cross sat prominently on her forehead—indicating the observance of Ash Wednesday, a day of penitence. A day to express remorse and sorrow. Shame.
It’s a day for observers to reflect on their mortality, and their sinfulness before God.
The dishonest discourse around gun control dished out by conservatives and sponsored by the National Rifle Association is a sin. It is a stain on all our hands. And people like Ingraham, when making points like this, make it clear that they feel no shame about the entire thing.