"Don't politicize the shooting" has been a common refrain after the mass shootings of 2012, especially among Second Amendment–defending conservatives. But in the wake of Friday's shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, a few conservatives are bucking the usual routine and indicating an openness to question decades of maxims about access to guns.
"This is not the gun's fault, but guns *do* make this sort of atrocity much, much easier to commit," Townhall editor Guy Benson said on Twitter. "That's indisputable."
Benson maintained that he isn't a "gun-grabber," but "there is a sickness in society. Guns can both exacerbate& mitigate the consequences of that sickness."
Conservative author David Frum was panned on Michelle Malkin's Twitchy site for sending a sarcastic tweet this morning: "Obviously, we need to lower the age limit for concealed carry so toddlers can defend themselves."
Frum followed up with a column arguing that "Every Day is the Day to Talk About Gun Control."
"Almost uniquely in the world, the United States suffers massacre after massacre after massacre: in schools, in workplaces, in movie theaters, on city streets," Frum wrote. "And after each such massacre, there follows a great hushing: don't you dare mention the most obvious reason for this unique American horror":
And I'll say: I'll accept no lectures about "sensitivity" on days of tragedy like today from people who work the other 364 days of the year against any attempt to prevent such tragedies.
It's bad enough to have a gun lobby. It's the last straw when that lobby also sets up itself as the civility police. It may not be politically possible to do anything about the prevalence of weapons of mass murder. But it damn well ought to be possible to complain about them — and about the people who condone them.
A more measured Philip Klein wrote that "Tho misguided, dont think debating gun control is politicizing. Politicizing is blaming political opponents for a tragedy."
There are only a few, and other conservatives have stuck to the regular script, accusing President Obama of politicizing the shooting by giving a speech in which he called for "meaningful action" on Friday. Republican politicians, though they offer prayers and thoughts to the victims' families, have been short on calls for change. The powerful National Rifle Association has been silent on the issue all day, canceling a Twitter chat featuring country singer Colt Ford and even deleting tweets relating to the chat. A spokesman for the NRA did not respond to a request for comment.
Benson and others stand out for daring to question, however cautiously, the absolutes in which people talk about guns. But Republican strategist Ana Navarro doubted that the seeds of change were truly being sown: "We go through the same futile exercise every time people are killed in a senseless shooting incident," Navarro told BuzzFeed. "At the end not a damn thing changes."
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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