Fox News figures are dismissing the voices of the families who suffered in a mass shooting in Newtown, CT by claiming they're being used and exploited by Democrats, discounting the efforts they have made to encourage Congress to pass stronger gun laws.
On April 11, the Senate overcame a Republican-led filibuster that tried to block the beginning of debate on stronger gun laws with a 68-31 vote. The impetus for the new gun proposals was driven by the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 victims dead, most of them young children. President Obama had been urging Congress to act to strengthen guns laws in response to the shooting for some time.
According to several Fox News figures, Obama has been using the families of the Newtown shooting victims as props for a political agenda.
On April 11, Fox News host Sean Hannity called the effort to strengthen gun laws "naked exploitation of dead children and grieving families," while his guest Ann Coulter said that Democrats are "play[ing] with these victims." The previous night, Hannity stated that the president "is once again using families of tragedy as props for his agenda." Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said on his April 11 radio show that Obama is "using the Newtown families to push for background checks." Fox News White House reporter Ed Henry similarly said on April 9 that "for the second straight day, the White House used the victims of the Newtown tragedy to make their case." On his April 9 radio show, Fox News host Mike Huckabee suggested that taking some of the relatives of the Newtown shooting victims to Washington, DC on Air Force One to make their case for stronger gun laws was "an exploitation of those parents."
Such an attitude does a disservice to the many Newtown families that want tougher gun laws in the wake of their tragedies. Several of the families appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes on April 7 to discuss what kind of gun violence prevention measures they would like to see signed into law, saying that universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines were important. After the vote that broke the GOP's threatened filibuster, more than 30 families of Newtown victims released a statement criticizing those who tried block an up-or-down vote on new gun legislation, saying that "[t]he senators who have vowed to filibuster this bill should be ashamed of their attempt to silence efforts to prevent the next American tragedy."
The Newtown families have been so dedicated to getting new gun violence prevention measures passed that they have been lobbying lawmakers on Capitol Hill and in Hartford, Connecticut. From Politico's report headlined "Newtown families: Victims turn lobbyists":
What started as a support group is now a lobbying force unlike any other to descend on Capitol Hill. The family members typically begin their pitch to senators softly, telling the story of the child that they lost. They gently say they could not have imagined themselves in this position, but they're doing it to honor the memory of their children. They say they're supporters of the Second Amendment, and just want to have a conversation.
But there's nothing subtle about the way some of them conclude their visits: by leaving behind a color card with a photo of their slain relative.
The families coordinate their visits to the Hill through meetings in their kitchens, on conference calls and over email. The trips are paid for through donations to Sandy Hook Promise.
Many of the victims' families made pilgrimages to Harford that helped win passage of a tough new Connecticut gun law that Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) signed last week. That became a dry run for the Washington push. In a technique they might replicate in Washington, the parents lined up along the entrance of the Connecticut chamber, so the last thing politicians saw before voting was the anguish in their faces.