Last week’s mass shooting at an Orlando gay club that left 49 people dead continues to (rightly) dominate the news cycle, as U.S. politicians opposed to gun control try to skirt the issue, while those in support of tougher gun laws have taken a far more proactive stance. Democrats took the Senate floor in a 14-hour filibuster on June 16, which ended with a plan to vote on multiple gun control proposals.
Of course, once the folks on the other side of the aisle got involved, i.e., Republicans, they promptly voted against the measures, which included bills to prevent “suspected terrorists” from buying guns, as well as amendments for universal background checks. This “good day’s work” wasn’t missed by Full Frontal host Samantha Bee, who once again took the GOP to task for blocking gun control.
But Bee notes that the GOP hasn’t always been snuggly holstered by the NRA. The Gipper himself—well, the actor who played him—Ronald Reagan banned open carry when he was the governor of California, and lent his vocal support to the Brady Bill. Former President George H.W. Bush resigned from the NRA because of the group’s “paranoid rhetoric,” while the late Justice Warren Burger denounced its lobbying as defrauding the American people. And yet today we have Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell openly admitting that his party wouldn’t dare oppose the NRA in appointing a Supreme Court Justice, while the gun-lobbying group’s agenda often makes up the GOP’s talking points.
The GOP also continues to have a muddled stance on Donald Trump, its big orange chip in the presidential game. Early on, the party disavowed Trump’s hateful rhetoric, but was eventually forced to come around once it was clear that Republican voters weren’t going to back a reject from the saddest wax museum ever. The GOP’s mostly held Trump at arm’s length, but while that’s still within earshot of his latest racist rants, party members feign ignorance or just evade questioning about his “platform.” But despite the GOP’s protestations, Trump’s xenophobia and white nativism aren’t new to its scene—they’re just the unvarnished iterations of some of the GOP’s similarly held beliefs.