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Gunmaker turned congressman rushes to Fox with absurd solution: Let me lead a task force

Facing a wave of anger over the senseless gun tragedy in Las Vegas Sunday night, Republicans this week are slowly being forced to engage in a debate about gun violence in America, and why leaders refuse to pass meaningful laws to address the swelling public safety crisis. As cable television airs daily, tearful remembrances to […]

By Eric Boehlert - October 05, 2017
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Gun maker on Fox

As cable television airs daily, tearful remembrances to the 59 killed and scores of country music fans retell their night of horror, the response from Republican politicians is even more inadequate than usual. They’ve done little beyond announcing that it’s inappropriate to discuss America’s gun epidemic and the dangerous culture that promotes it.

With bipartisan momentum building for a bill to outlaw the so-called “bump stocks,” which turned the Las Vegas gunman’s semi-automatic weapons into machine guns capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute, the gun industry’s Republican advocates are scrambling to fortify a strategy.

Returning once again to Fox News to discuss the Las Vegas shooting, Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), on Thursday proposed Congress create a task force to study the issue and that people like Russell, who also conveniently sells guns for a living, should be a part of the task force.

“One of the ideas that I’m promoting is to form a task force with experts where we can work on the issue with people that are actually qualified, that know the laws, that know the issues,” Russell stressed. “I have combat experience. I’m a firearms manufacturer.”

A U.S. veteran who served in the Army for 21 years, Russell also founded Two Rivers Arms, a gun manufacturing company in Oklahoma whose motto is “Building what soldiers could not bring home.” In other words, “TRA exists to build rifles to the specification of what soldiers saw on the battlefield but could not take home as a war trophy due to numerous laws regarding private property in wartime, as well as certain infringements upon what shall not be infringed,” as one gun writer explained.

So the congressman who manufactures guns to closely resemble wartime firearms used by U.S. military in combat, and then sells them to civilians, is among the best people to address the issue of militarized gun violence in the U.S.?

Not likely.

KILMEADE: This guy had no mental health issues. This guy’s background checks were done and he passed every single time. It’s illegal in most cases to have automatic weapon. they want to focus on that. What would you focus on right now? Are you say would he go should get a bipartisan select committee together with a time line and a budget to analyze?

RUSSELL: One of the ideas that I’m promoting is to form a task force with experts where we can work on the issue with people that are actually qualified, that know the laws, that know the issues. I have combat experience. I’m a firearms manufacturer. I know 18th U.S. Code all of these things. And we have others that we can quietly work together rather than be polarized, go to our corners and shout at each other. And look, as far as devices that mechanically manipulate to go to full auto and some of that. We have to have all of those discussions. But going after the implements is not the solution. We have been successful in combating terror. We can be successful against combating mass murder.

The idea that Republicans actually want to study the deadly issue of gun violence in America is completely preposterous, because the Republican Party for years has made sure the federal government is severely and purposefully hampered when it comes to studying the deadly issue of gun violence in America.

Specifically, and perhaps most outrageously, Republicans have made sure that the Center for Disease Control is essentially forbidden from even researching guns.

From the Washington Post:

In 1996, the Republican-majority Congress threatened to strip funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unless it stopped funding research into firearm injuries and deaths. The National Rifle Association accused the CDC of promoting gun control. As a result, the CDC stopped funding gun-control research — which had a chilling effect far beyond the agency, drying up money for almost all public health studies of the issue nationwide.

Yet Republicans like Russell suddenly insist Congress needs to study gun violence with a new task force? Don’t believe it.  This is just an attempt by Republicans to stall on behalf of the NRA at a time when dramatic action is needed.


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