Ever since the gun massacre in Uvalde, Texas, rightwing lawmakers and commentators have tried to blame the tragedy — and the many other recent mass shootings — on everything but guns. Ted Cruz blamed doors. Others smartphones. Then there was Lauren Boebert. The newly embattled Colorado representative made an analogy too nonsensical even for her: She argued that gun control is pointless because America didn’t ban airplanes after the September 11 attacks.
If you’re still reeling from that one, then prepare yourself, because one of her colleagues just repeated it.
“Airplanes were used on [9/11] as the weapon to kill thousands of people and to inflict terror on our country. There wasn't a conversation about banning airplanes,” GOP Rep. Steve Scalise says while arguing against gun control measures pic.twitter.com/ll5sVixuUI
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) June 8, 2022
On Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise gave Boebert’s doozy the Mulligan it didn’t deserve. While discussing the gun violence epidemic that is unique to the United States, Scalise brought up 9/11, struggling to find a connection between it and a teenager murdering 19 children and two teachers with legally obtained weapons.
“Airplanes were used that day as the weapon to kill thousands of people and to inflict terror on our country,” Scalise told reporters. “There wasn’t a conversation about banning airplanes. There was a conversation about connecting the dots. How we can try to figure out if there are signs we can see to stop the next attack from happening?”
It was a frankly less succinct repeat of Boebert’s own failed analogy soon after the massacre, in which she crowed, “When 9/11 happened, we didn’t ban planes. We secured the cockpits.”
An analogy this wack perhaps doesn’t deserve hardcore debunking. But New York Magazine’s Intelligencer did just that for posterity’s sake, pointing out that, yep, American lawmakers did do some air travel banning:
In fact, after 9/11, Congress enacted sweeping restrictions on air travel. Before 9/11, you only had to pass through a metal detector to get onto a flight. You didn’t need a photo ID, you didn’t need to remove your shoes, you didn’t need to pass through a body scanner, you could bring liquids on board, and your family could come meet you at the gate. The “no-fly list” didn’t even exist.
After Congress passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, and then beefed up security with a series of subsequent measures, none of that is true. Now, law-abiding citizens are subject to a great deal of hassle. A couple years ago, my wife, who is not a terrorist, was pulled aside and subjected to a pat-down search because she mistakenly included some soup in the meal she packed for her flight.
In any case, if you’re waiting for the GOP to stop making nonsensical arguments and listen to Matthew McConaughey, don’t hold your breath.