Several hours ago, Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old man from Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire on a crowd of people attending an outdoor country music festival from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, killing at least 58 people and wounding more than 515.
Following the shooting, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the current White House Press Secretary, was asked to talk about potential changes to our country’s gun law that could come as a result during a White House Press Conference. Sanders, however, was not interested in talking policy so soon after such a terrible tragedy and promptly shut him down.
Specifically, shortly after starting the press conference, Sanders was asked, “when these horrible massacres occur, it leads to questions about gun control. Has this particular massacre made the president think anything more about pursuing tighter gun laws such as background checks to prevent massacres like this from happening again?”
In response, Sanders reminded him to spend today focusing on those who were lost or hurt, not politics. “Look, this is an unspeakable tragedy. [But] today is a day for consoling the survivors and mourning those we lost. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with all of those individuals. There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country,” she explained.
“There is currently an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation,” added Sanders, noting, “a motive has yet to be determined and it would be premature to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all of the facts or what took place last night.”
Unfortunately, the reporter didn’t give up. “To follow on that though, does the president believe that this…a time when this should not be a political discussion, it should be a policy discussion? Does he believe that he could bring something new to the gun debate that has been locked in typical politics for so many years?” he pressed.
Still, Sanders refused to bring politics into the conversation. “I think today is more…a day of reflection, a day of mourning, a day of gratefulness for those that [sic] were saved,” she replied, noting, “I think that there will be time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment. But certainly, I think that there is a time for that to happen.”
Despite making it clear that she wasn’t going to discuss potential legislation, the reporter tried yet again to get her to bring it up. Specifically, he said, “if I could follow up, before he was elected president, in some 15 or 16 years ago, he did have a different view on guns than he had during the campaign. Does he believe this is something he could lead a bipartisan effort on at some point? And at what point would that be appropriate?”
Instead of answering his question, Sanders stated, “I think that is something we can talk about in the coming days and see what that looks like moving forward. I think one of the things that we don’t want to do is create laws that don’t stop these types of things from happening.” By saying this, she’s essentially letting him know that when the time does come to discuss policy, stricter gun policies will likely not be on the table.
As an example, she pointed to Chicago. “If you look to Chicago, where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year [despite] having some of the strictest gun laws in the country. That certainly hasn’t helped there,” argued Sanders, adding, “so when the time comes for those conversations to take place, then I think we need to look at things that will have a real impact.”
Anyone who tries to bring up politics in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, or any tragedy, should be ashamed of themselves. As Sanders made explicitly clear, right now is a time of mourning, not politics.