Suddenly they care about gun violence?...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/11/2024, 10:35am PT  

The cynical "Say the Name Laken Riley" State of the Union stunt by MAGA Republicans underscores the hypocrisy of the longtime NRA-funded GOP.

Last Thursday, President Joe Biden entered the House Chamber and, moments before he delivered an elegant demolition of MAGA cult madness during an historic State of the Union Address, the 46th President of the United States was confronted by the QAnon conspiracy supporting wing-nut, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

In violation of House Rules, not to mention basic decorum, Greene wore a red MAGA cap, a white T-shirt reading "Say Her Name", and a red jacket on which she'd pinned a white button bearing the name "Laken Riley" and another bearing her photo. She handed Biden a "Laken Riley" button and, later, interrupted the President's SOTU Address --- screaming a demand that Biden "say her name"!

In response, Biden, who lost his first wife and daughter in a tragic car accident, not only said her name, while holding up the "Laken Riley" button, but expressed his condolences to Riley's parents.

The President's display of empathy towards the parents of the 22-year old nursing student, who was allegedly murdered last month by an undocumented Venezuelan immigrant, was appropriate. But the GOP's cynical effort to exploit the young lady's death in order to bolster Donald Trump's effort to create "hysteria" over an imaginary "immigrant crime wave" represents the height of hypocrisy...

A study by the Texas Department of Public Safety, cited by the DOJ's Office of Justice Programs, "found that undocumented immigrants had substantially lower crime rates than native-born citizens and legal immigrants across a range of felony offenses:

Relative to undocumented immigrants, U.S.-born citizens are over 2 times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and over 4 times more likely to be arrested for property crimes.

The cynicism and hypocrisy not only lies in the effort to bolster the "immigrant crime wave" canard, but also in the fact that the Laken Riley stunt was carried out by the same right-wing extremists who previously appeared on the House floor wearing AR-15 pins.

The AR-15 rifle is a high velocity, semi automatic version of the deadly M-16 I carried while serving in Vietnam. It was engineered to inflict "maximum damage" on the human body.

It is also the weapon of choice for the U.S. born mass murderers who killed 20 children and 6 adults in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT; 60 people at the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, NV in 2017; 17 people at Parkland, FL's Marjory Stone Douglas High School in 2018, and 19 students plus two teachers at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX in 2022. That is a short list.

The same Republicans who exploited Laken Riley's tragic death not only blocked passage of an Assault Weapons ban, they also supported a spending bill that would block wildly popular universal background checks for the purchase of such weapons.

Against the backdrop of both the ginned-up Trump claims of an "immigrant crime" wave and the likelihood that none of the AR-15 worshiping Republicans could recite the name of a single child victim from either the Sandy Hook or Robb Elementary School shootings, the "Laken Riley" stunt must been seen as a cynical case of rank hypocrisy.

At this point, sadly, we should expect no less from the Republican party.

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Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, and Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). He previously served as a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. Canning has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing

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