Complicit in 20 Children’s Death, Mitch McConnell Claims He Can Do Nothing

This afternoon, the man who will soon lead a filibuster against laws intended to lessen the chances that a massacre like Newtown will happen again had this to say for the people for Newtown.

So we stand with the people of Newtown today and in the days ahead. We can do nothing to lessen their anguish, but we can let them know that we mourn with them, that we share a tiny part of their burden in our own hearts. And that we lift the victims and their families and the entire community in prayer.

He said nothing in his speech about the personal responsibility he bears for not having acted to prevent this massacre and similar ones before 20 children died. He said nothing about immunizing gun manufacturers and making it easier to buy a gun. Indeed, he remained silent–simply clearing his throat once–when specifically asked about the actions he might take or obstruct to prevent similar massacres in the future.

No, Mitch McConnell. We may not be able to do anything to lessen their anguish, but we sure as hell can do more than your proposed solution–to pray.

I’ve been mentally responding to reactions like this much as The Economist’s Democracy in America did generally.

So unless the American people are willing to actually do something to stop the next massacre of toddlers from happening, we should shut up and quit blubbering. It’s our fault, and until we evince some remorse for our actions or intention to reform ourselves, the idea that we consider ourselves entitled to “mourn” the victims of our own barbaric policies is frankly disgusting.

Unless Mitch McConnell is willing to reverse his career of catering to the NRA, he has no business offering solace to the victims. Because he was one of the people ensuring the perpetrators of this gun violence would have easy access to their guns.

Note, McConnell is not the only one who followed bold words with silence (though he does have the NRA A rating, unlike these others). The White House today refused to say whether gun control was a top priority. And as Alec MacGillis notes, “in the decade since [2000], we’ve heard nary a peep from the side of the spectrum that had previously made this one of their causes.”

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

23 replies
  1. bsbafflesbrains says:

    At the movie theater in Colorado the assault weapon jammed and some people said it could have been much worse and apparently in this case the gun didn’t jam. Where we draw the line is important. These type of weapons should be in the category of bazookas and rpg’s and 50cal machine guns.

  2. orionATL says:

    the first step is to do what you have done here – clearly identify those most responsible for specific weapons, ammunition, and weapons policies and then highlight their actions and inaction.

    so much of what happens in washington or state capitals is never reported in detail in regular media. citizens like myself really have little idea of what is really going on there. that is why i come hear to read and learn.

    beyond that, there is very little liberal-leaning political organization that is not timid or compromised by single-issue focus and the drive for funding.

    so, back to my initial point, the first step is providing accurate info to people which includes staying with an issue rather than, as with the mainstream media, focusing on it for a brief time then moving on to other news. again this weblog is particularly strong in that regard.

  3. joanneleon says:

    Excellent post.

    I’ve been glad to see so many people knocking down the typical and meaningless platitudes in response to this horrific situation. It’s time to act and to stop pretending you are not an enabler of the gun manufacturers and the death industry, whether it is public or private arms we are talking about.

  4. lefty665 says:

    McConnell and Feinstein out, and 98 to go. Please put a finger on them EW. With more weeding we can get to the point of knowing who to look to for rational legislation.

    Please also take a look at mental health funding. It is inadequate in the first place, and it is wrapped up in the sequestration crap. Looks like Adam Lanza had family resources, but unknown efforts, to get him treatment. Most kids do not.

    For my 2 cents, MH funding is every bit as important as the firearms side. Either alone is likely to be inadequate. Many states are so strapped that unless someone presents as a life threatening danger to him/her self or others there are few services. McConnell carries much of the onus for that too.

    An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure. Or more, a lot more. Think what might have been different if this kid had effective intervention before he self destructed and took everyone he could with him.

  5. What Constitution? says:

    But he’s just being honest: he, Mitch McConnell, “can do nothing”. He has proved that to the American people for years now. No affirmative talents, abilities or attributes whatsoever. And he repeatedly gets re-elected why?

  6. seedeevee says:

    And I still see no call for action against our national past-time — invading and killing people in other countries (let alone our massive institutionalized police and judicial violence) and the glorification of such violence as a means to our security.

    It’s all about the easy targets to you guys — gun manufacturers and scared politicians.

    It should be all about our national religion – violence.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ahh, the magic of prayer. Goopers (and not a few Dems) use it as a substitute for credible legislation, regulations and enforcement. It gives an appearance of concern, a semblance of action. Meanwhile, it shields perpetrators from liability for doing nothing. The intended effect is to protect sponsors who make gobs of money from such things as weapons, drugs, war, and the bankers who move their profits.

  8. bell says:

    “So we stand with the people of Newtown today and in the days ahead.”

    may as well have read “Mitch McConnell stands with the NRA today and in the days ahead.”

    politicians can’t have it both ways.. at some point they have to stand up for something. at this point standing up for the NRA is more important then standing up for the victims. that is my read on the usa political system at present..

    great article emptywheel. thanks.

  9. Agent J says:

    I can’t BELIEVE you people!

    How can you honestly go around blaming inanimate objects for the actions of a sentient being??!!! Even if that sentient being was deranged, the guns did not tell him to shoot someone else!

    You all are speaking as if all violence and massacres would suddenly end if guns were removed from the nation. Well let me send you a wake up call – Britain has had guns and knives banned for decades now, and guess what the crime rate is in the UK? It’s the same as the USA. Do you know what the #1 weapon is that is used in murders and assaults? Knives!!!

    When guns are banned, citizens become a fearful people who must cower in their homes with no way of protecting themselves in the criminals!

    Do you know why psychopaths choose schools to shoot up? because they are “Gun-Free” zones. No one will be able to stop their rampage. Just look at the Aurora, Co theater shooting. the killer had several theaters closer to his home to choose from, so why choose the one he did? The police have determined that he chose that particular theater because there was a big sign on the front door that did not allow the public to carry concealed weapons inside that theater, and there would have been no one able to shoot back at him. The person who made the decision to disallowing concealed carry of guns in that theater carries the weight of all those deaths on his shoulders for making that public place an easy target for a criminal!

    Criminals don’t abide by the law in the first place! Why would making guns harder to get for regular citizens to protect themselves ever make a confrontation with a criminal safer?

    And along with all of this, you are also speaking in ignorance because you have not researched that fact that cities and states that allow open carry of firearms by the upstanding citizens become safer places to live because criminals are afraid to commit violent crimes due to the possibility of someone carrying a weapon to defend themselves.

    Do a little research. Use your brains.

    Guns aren’t the problem – criminals are the problem. This situation could not have been avoided, because a deranged-minded person who is bent on committing suicide and taking others with him could just as easily driven a truck or a car through the school and run over just as many children and adults, or made homemade explosives and blown himself up, or any number of other ways performed great evil.

    Wake up! Neither the government or anyone else can keep you truly safe from this kind of thing.

    What really needs to happen is for people to band together and work together to help one another, love one another, and get to know one another. The only thing that may have stopped something like this would have been a closer community – people closer to each other – close enough to help a mother with a mentally challenged son – close enough to care enough for the trials and hardships of other human beings…

    That was the way things were 60 years ago, but that is not our society any longer.

    The answer is really up to us. The gun is just another tool – like a screwdriver or a wrench, it can only do what the wielder makes it do.

  10. Brindle says:

    Sexualizing the Bushmaster M4 .223 cal, similar to the one used in massacre.
    Complete with porno-style soundtrack. Gun nuts are sick folks.

  11. guest says:

    Seriously. I suppose I should be shocked by this one. But since I regard “innocent” American children as no more or no less deserving of protection it comes to senseless, preventable violence. So I don’t see this one as much worse than the mall shooting in my neck of the woods last week. Foreign kids who end up as collateral damage when daddy or big brother gets on Obama’s or Petraeus’s kill lists? Palestinian kids, especially in Gaza? Tough shit for them. Grown men and women minding their own business? They practically fucking deserved it (unless they were wearing the right uniforms). Apparently none of them are worth trying to save to anyone in the media or politics.

  12. brendanx says:

    I sent this to the principal and every teacher at my kid’s elementary school (I sent an edited, abbreviated version to the paper):

    It bothers me that my kid has to grow up in an environment where lockdown is something normal. I have another suggestion: Identify all the NRA members and other gun nuts in our district and post their names for public shaming. It’s not like they’re any friends of public school teachers to begin with.

    Let Xxxxxx’s teachers meet these people, whose answer to the recent massacre is that teachers carry guns around the children they care for. I think that would make for an interesting “conversation.”

    People need to recognize that the NRA and affiliated organizations are not merely devoted to gun owners’ supposedly limitless rights, though that is bad enough in its consequences. In fact, they actively promote the proliferation of guns as an end in itself and are therefore a menace to public safety. At the moment they are protected by many laws enacted by cowardly, corrupt or outright extremist politicians. As citizens we must certainly change those laws, but it is likewise essential to hold up the NRA and its individual members for public scrutiny, confront and publicize their activities, and hopefully make this nation’s gun fetishism go the way of another lethal vice, smoking.

    Or, to make another analogy: if we can have a sex offender registry, why not a gun nut registry? As people love to say, Let’s do it for the children.

  13. brendanx says:

    Ten years ago people wouldn’t have thought smoking mightly nearly be eradicated. Ten years ago no one would have imagined states legalizing gay marriage one after the other. Let’s see that in ten or twenty years people will look back at the power of the NRA..

    Though smoking is a useful comparison, I really think that consumers of guns are best compared to consumers of child pornography (and I’m sure the two aren’t mutually exclusive): maybe most aren’t performing the actual criminal acts captured on film, but as consumers of it they are accomplices, and, as such, criminals themselves. Indeed, gun nuts’ youtube stuff is a cousin to violent pornography.

    At the very least, the individuals involved in gun proliferation should face opprobrium.

  14. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Mostly avoiding the news this week, but am swinging by EWs.
    My spouse is has a lifelong membership in the NRA, originating from the 1970s. By the late 1980s, he thought they’d become a tool of militant munitions makers and were acting like loons.

    I don’t want the National Rifleman in the house. The covers of that NRA publication have become more and more… ‘over the top’ over time. Talk about ‘overkill’, just look at the crap printed in that publication. It will boggle your mind.

    Don’t assume all NRA members support the extremist, defiant, unreasonable tactics of that outfit these days.

    One reason that, many years ago, I left teaching was due to the deaths of several students. Guns involved.
    Those families in CT are never, ever going to get over what happened.

    The rest of us need to make clear that the NRA is not a monolithic political force any more. My spouse wouldn’t join that outfit today for all the tea in China; the NRA has apparently fallen prey to the survivalist, whackadoodle end of the spectrum.

    But apart from my usual contempt for McConnell, what I can’t stomach at this point is the danger that his policies put law enforcement in. There is no reason whatsoever for any police force in this nation to have to defend the public against this kind of weaponry. If McConnell continues to cave to that Paper Tiger the NRA, then I sincerely and devotedly hope that every police and law enforcement pension fund, union, and membership group call him out for placing the lives of public safety officers at risk from the mentally ill.

    If my conversations over the weekend (and what I hear from my spouse) are any indication, people have zero patience left for McConnell-style toadying to the NRA after what happened last week in Connecticut. I am detecting a kind of grim resolve that the issue of guns be dealt with. And now.

    My youngest nephew is a kindergartener this year. I won’t be watching very much news for awhile. I can’t take the sanctimony with no action, and I can’t take the overwhelming sense of meaningless tragedy. Compared with this tragedy, the Fiscal Cliff silliness is bizarre form of comic relief.

  15. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    One more comment: apparently, despite his sanctimonious oafishness, McConnell is not paying attention to the fact that ‘background checks’ do not include mental illness: they only cover criminal records. Now, there may be overlap between ‘criminal’ and ‘mentally ill’, but not always. According to my spouse, the shooter last week would have been able to purchase a gun, because he did not have a criminal record. IOW, a background check would not have turned up the fact that he was nuts.

    I look forward to McConnell’s explanation as to why he can’t address that public safety problem.

  16. Mark says:

    Agent J:

    With an intellection like that, it’s a fucking wonder to me how you’re even able to move from the pen to the trough and then back again? Or do they give each little White American Conservative male their own little private trough?

    Eh cromagnon?

  17. Mark says:

    And when you’re done moderating my post, tell that American Conservative douchestring bmaz, that he’s an intellectual poseur.

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