The mass murder in Las Vegas is invariably leading to laments about the lack of congressional action on gun control at the New York Times. Reporter Mark Landler traveled with the president to Las Vegas for “Trump to a Grieving City: ‘This Is a Rough Time,’” in Thursday’s edition. And an earlier story gave away the slant in the headline: “Conversation Turns to Guns, Then Republicans Change the Subject.”
Landler’s piece from Las Vegas actually treated Trump reasonably fairly, as encapsulated in the story’s text box: “Taking up a harrowing, and numbing, duty of the modern presidency.” But the last paragraphs devolved into non-journalistic sentiment rebuking the Republican-held Congress for failing to enact the Times preferred strict gun-control laws, while praising President Obama’s care and weeping.
It is not a reflexive message for a president who has often exploited divisions in American society. After previous shootings, Mr. Trump zeroed in on the role of Muslims, or accused opponents like Hillary Clinton of advocating wide-open immigration policies.
Still, presidents with different politics and temperaments have also struggled with how to respond to mass shootings. Mr. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, wept when he spoke of the 2012 slaughter of children at a Connecticut elementary school, and he sang the hymn “Amazing Grace” when he eulogized the black parishioners gunned down in 2015 in a church in Charleston, S.C.
After Congress failed to enact legislation in the aftermath of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Obama shed tears again -- this time in anger at a political establishment he said was in thrall to the National Rifle Association.
But late in his presidency, after police officers were shot in Dallas, a weary Mr. Obama spoke of feeling that he had run out of words to adequately express either sorrow or resolve in the face of such relentless violence.
If anything, gun control laws currently are even more elusive. That leaves Mr. Trump with the unenviable prospect of more hospital visits and memorial services.
On Wednesday, New York Times reporters Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Yamiche Alcindor lamented along with the Democrats that: “Conversation Turns to Guns, Then Republicans Change the Subject.” The text box reframed that partisan prism: “For one Democrat, it’s a ‘stalemate and that’s a shame.”
Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, was at a loss on Tuesday. After the massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, he challenged the pro-gun bent of his state and co-authored legislation to expand background checks of gun purchasers, only to see the measure fail.
“I just think that common sense has to prevail,” a dispirited Mr. Manchin said, explaining why he thinks that now is “the wrong time” to revive his bill. “But until that happens, until other people feel the same, we’re at a stalemate and that’s a shame.”
For years, amid a string of mass shootings in places whose names are by now seared into the national psyche -- Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Newtown, San Bernardino, Orlando and now Las Vegas - Democrats have tried to enact what they call “common-sense” gun restrictions. Time and time again, they have failed.
This week’s massacre in Las Vegas, which killed at least 59 people and injured more than 500, appears to have done little to change Washington’s gun control dynamic.
That tactic mirrored the Democrats’ tailored approaches of the past: After the Newtown shooting, they called for background checks for all gun purchases, including those at gun shows and from online sellers. After the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., last year, they tried to ban gun sales to people on federal no-fly or terrorism watch lists. After the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, it was improving background checks to catch mental illness.
The ACLU was against the ban on gun sales on federal watch lists, a detail the Times didn’t see fit to mention.
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And as they have done in the past, Republicans tried to steered the conversation in another direction, this time spotlighting the work of emergency medical workers. President Trump praised the swiftness of the Las Vegas law enforcement response, calling it “in many ways, a miracle.”
To the Times, protecting infants’ right to life is just a distraction and waste of time:
Congress is, in fact, not completely stuck -- even on difficult issues framed in terms of life and death. House Republicans on Tuesday took up legislation to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The House just passed legislation 237-189.
The contrasting action and inaction -- on abortion and gun control -- spotlighted the stark politics of “life” in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting. As they debated the abortion bill, members of both parties juxtaposed the two issues.
In the last line the reporters admit new laws would not have stopped the Las Vegas killer, but that Congress should Do Something anyway.
“Is there a single policy that would have prevented this particular mass shooting?” asked Ms. Haas, who is now the Virginia state director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, an advocacy group. “I doubt it seriously. But it doesn’t mean you don’t try.”