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Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a genius when it comes to playing the racist dog whistle. During a speech Thursday at a sheriffs’ convention in Washington, D.C., Sessions found a way to bring up criminal records and gang violence while addressing Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people.

“I think effective enforcement of our gun laws, focusing on criminals and dangerous people, mentally ill people that have been—where we have the legal ability to do so—can reduce violence in our communities and improve public safety,” Sessions said, ThinkProgress reports. “It is not good if we got gun laws that say criminals can’t carry guns and they never get enforced. So we intend to enforce our laws.”

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Someone might want to let Sessions know that Nikolas Cruz, the accused gunman in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting, purchased his gun legally, which proves that current gun laws might be ineffective.

But Sessions wouldn’t be Sessions if he didn’t find a way to bring up gang violence—which, unless Sessions is talking about the “Make America Great Again” gang, which Cruz appeared to belong to, really has no place in this discussion.

“When parents once again go to sleep fearful that their kids will not be safe, even when they go to school—parents have told me in gang-infested neighborhoods that children can no longer stand at the bus stop by themselves—they take turns, parents do, of being out there every morning and afternoon,” Sessions said. “So we’ve gotta confront the problem. There’s no doubt about it.”

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I guess it doesn’t matter to Sessions that Parkland is not a place terrorized by gang violence. Or that Parkland was just named Florida’s safest city in 2017, according to an analysis by the Washington-based National Council for Home Safety and Security.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for the Trump administration to call homegrown terrorism by its name. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that the current administration emboldens this brand of hate and then preys on white America’s fear by pulling out tired tropes about gang violence to avoid the obvious issues of homegrown hate and unbridled access to guns.

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