Media critic and Fox News host Howard Kurtz at 11:08 a.m. Monday tweeted "Gun control is a legitimate issue, but for the Dems already raising it after Las Vegas massacre, could we just have a day before plunging in." Responding to a barrage of criticism, Kurtz responded in three tweets, the first almost reasonably,: "Getting strong pushback from gun control advocates. Just saying it can appear insensitive to do this instantly & we don't have all facts." The third, however, read in part I said one day is decent interval... Let’s just wait till passions cool & people forget about it, right?"
Kurtz should have claimed that his Twitter account had been hacked, given that he had implied that passion is off-base upon the murder of 59 people and that legislation cannot be discussed until the victimes have been erased from memory.
Candidate Donald Trump had a different perspective. Less than eleven hours after a gunman on June 12, 2016 shot and killed 49 individuals at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, he tweeted "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"
A few days after 14 persons had been shot and killed in San Bernardino, California the previous December, Trump advocated a "total and complete shutdown" of the entry of Muslims to the United States "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." After Orlando, San Bernardino, candidate Trump characteristically leapt to conclusions before passions had cooled and all the facts were known. He waited less than a day before tweeting about these horrific events, as well as about Charleston, the Paris attacks, and the EgyptAir crash.
After the Las Vegas disaster, President Trump says "we'll be talking about gun laws as time goes by," meaning never if it increases safety but soon, if it does not. Without evidence he called Stephen Paddock a “sick man, a demented man.” Granted Trump is impulsive, bigoted, and ignorant.
But what is Paul Ryan's excuse? At a news conference Tuesday, the House Speaker
also said proposed legislation to make it easier to buy gun silencers is not scheduled for a vote this week, but he did not indicate when it would come for a floor vote.
“We cannot let the actions of a single person define us as a country,” Ryan said. “It is not who we are. Instead what truly defines us are the act of heroism we witness after the tragedy.”
Many things define us, including the mass shooting- three dead, two injured- which took place earlier Sunday in Kansas.
But the Speaker did tell us what his excuse is. Ryan stated
“one of the things we have learned from these shootings is often underneath this is a diagnosis of mental illness.”
He cited legislation passed last year aimed at expanding access to mental health services.
“That law is now being implemented,” Ryan said. “So I think it is important that as see the dust settles, and we see what is behind some of these tragedies, that mental health reform is a critical ingredient to making sure that we can try and prevent some of these things from happening in the past.”
But Ryan did not address moves made by the GOP and President Donald Trump earlier this year that reversed an Obama administration regulation to make it more difficult for those who are on Social Security for mental illness to be able to purchase guns.
So that is his excuse- the mental health dodge, from a guy who as Speaker spearheaded the effort to make it easier for mentally ill individuals to buy firearms.
Representative Joe Kennedy- from the famous Massachusetts Kennedy family-responded "All due respect Mr. Speaker, you and your party celebrated taking mental health care from millions just months ago at the White House."
No respect necessary or deserved. It may be a well-meaning Howard Kurtz wanting to talk about guns after we've forgotten the carnage they've wrought or Donald Trump and Paul Ryan taking refuge in the safe, largely irrelevant shelter of mental health. Either way, there is a powerful constituency for averting the eyes and pretending it is an aberration, not an essential trait of our national character.