Kellyanne Conway, top counselor to President Donald Trump, said that the White House and many Republican lawmakers welcome “thoughtful conversations” about gun control in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, but then laid blame with the Obama administration for not regulating a device that allowed the shooter to mow people down with rapid fire.
The shooting at a Las Vegas music festival left 59 dead and over 500 injured on Sunday night.
“We always welcome thoughtful conversation about policy and issues,” Conway told “Fox & Friends” on Thursday morning, adding that the right to bear arms is “a bedrock within our Constitution” and “must be protected.”
Conway noted that several Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have said they were unaware of the existence of a device, known as a bump stock, that allowed the Las Vegas gunman to automate the trigger-pull process on his semi-automatic rifles, essentially converting them into fully automatic weapons capable of firing much more rapidly.
After suggesting Republicans would be open to regulating bump stocks, Conway attacked Democrats for not doing so, noting that in 2010 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives decided not to ban the devices.
“This is a device that Obama’s ATF decided would not be regulated in 2010 and I think that’s an important part of this conversation,” she said.
She then accused prominent Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of largely ignoring the issue of gun control, speaking out about it only when politically convenient, including after mass shootings.
“They either have tweeted zero to one times this year about guns,” she said. “They have tweeted about Russia dozens of times, they have tweeted about this president innumerable times … they react and we need to have thoughtful conversations in this country.”
Conway made the same argument on CNN’s “New Day”, claiming that Democrats seize on mass shootings to push an agenda they otherwise pay little attention to.
“I know the high-horse cavalry loves to run in, thumping their chest after the tragedies,” Conway told CNN, “but let’s step back and have a thoughtful conversation about everything that is at play here.”
CNN host Chris Cuomo pushed back on Conway’s claim.
“The president says not now, and then it doesn’t happen,” Cuomo said. “You make the point yourself … you say, ‘They don’t talk about it except when these happen,’ yeah, that’s right. Because when it happens there’s acute need and there’s focus and when you say, ‘We don’t want to talk about it now,’ you’re ignoring the urgency and you’re hoping it goes away.”
Conway also accused Clinton and others of “rushing to Twitter while parents were literally still combing the hospitals, if not the rubble, for their missing loved ones.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and longtime gun control advocate, introduced legislation this week to ban bump stocks — something she attempted to do as part of an unsuccessful renewal of the assault weapons ban in 2013. Feinstein argued that the measure, which is supported by about two dozen Democrats, is narrow and would not be a significant victory for gun control, but is simply common sense.
“I mean, if not this, what?” she said. “It doesn’t take a weapon away. It just means you can’t convert it into something it’s not meant to be.”
Feinstein’s daughter had planned to attend the Route 91 Harvest Festival, but ended up not going.
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