In the days immediately after the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, politicians and gun violence prevention experts took to the airwaves and called for legislative solutions to rampant gun violence — while Fox News continued its tantrum against any new proposals to curb this epidemic and denounced all gun legislation as useless.
During a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, a 21-year-old alleged shooter opened fire from the rooftop of a nearby building, killing seven people and injuring at least 30 more. After firing more than 70 rounds into the crowd with what police are describing as a rifle “similar to an AR-15,” the shooter fled in his mother’s car and was apprehended by law enforcement after an eight-hour manhunt. During his first court appearance on July 6, he admitted to firing into the crowd and to contemplating a second attack in Wisconsin.
As a result of their investigation, law enforcement discovered that although the alleged shooter was too young to obtain a gun permit from Illinois in 2019, his father sponsored him for one anyway, despite his previous threats to kill himself and his family. Similar threats also prompted law enforcement to remove several knives from his home in 2019 but did not trigger the use of the state’s extreme risk protection order (also known as a “red flag law.”)
In response to the massacre, Democratic politicians at the state and local level appeared on cable news and called for tighter federal gun laws, citing the fact that people easily skirt Illinois’ relatively strong legislation by buying and selling weapons in the surrounding states with much more relaxed restrictions:
- During the July 5 edition of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, anchor Anderson Cooper asked Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) his thoughts on the shooter’s previous contact with law enforcement that still didn’t result in the state’s extreme risk protection order being used against him. Murphy admitted that the extreme risk law in Illinois is not used very often and highlighted that “the bill we just passed in Congress a week and a half ago appropriates almost a billion dollars to help states like Illinois teach law enforcement, first responders, how to use a red flag law well.” Murphy went on to say, “It’s no secret that I don’t think our gun law goes far enough,” adding, “Ultimately, we need to go further.”
- Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering called for a national ban on assault weapons during the July 5 edition of MSNBC’s MSNBC Prime. Rotering went on to tell host Ali Velshi that she hopes to see national leadership on broader gun reforms because Illinois is “surrounded by several states with very lenient laws,” which undermine the state’s ability to enforce its own laws.
- During the same hour of MSNBC Prime, Velshi spoke to Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), who argued, “We know that these military weapons — weapons of death and destruction designed for one thing: to kill as many people as quickly and efficiently and quickly as possible — have no business in our community and our streets.”
- During the July 5 edition of MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts called out the “easy, legal access to weapons of war” and highlighted the progress being made at the state and local levels.
- On the July 6 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a combat veteran who served in the Army during the Iraq War, told co-host Mika Brzezinski that while she enjoys shooting assault weapons on the range, they have no place on the streets. The senator also called for a federal ban on both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Despite the sense of urgency from Democratic politicians — including Schneider, who was at the parade — and their proposals of broadly popular gun reforms, Fox News continued its insistence that gun violence prevention laws are useless. In the immediate aftermath of the Highland Park shooting, Fox hosts and guests falsely claimed it proved Illinois’ own gun laws don’t work. The network’s guests and personalities have since started claiming no laws will work in curbing America’s unique epidemic of gun violence:
- During the July 5 edition of his radio show, Fox host Mark Levin acknowledged that “something is wrong” in terms of mass violence in the country, but went on to say, “The idea that we’re just going to start outlawing things of this sort simply isn’t going to work. Putting aside the Constitution, the law, and all the rest, isn’t going to work.”
- Former National Rifle Association spokesperson and conservative radio host Dana Loesch told Fox host Jesse Watters that Democrats continue to “focus on the same things that don’t work.” Loesch went on to accuse the Democrats of focusing on just “the objects,” presumably referring to guns.
- During the July 6 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, co-anchor Bill Hemmer said he doesn’t think there’s any provision in the federal gun legislation passed a few weeks ago that would have prevented this shooting. Fox guest Brett Tolman agreed, saying, “We need to stop passing laws that make us feel good.”
Despite Fox’s desperate spin, gun violence prevention laws have proved effective across the country. States with stricter gun legislation — like California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Oregon — have some of the lowest gun homicide rates, while states with the loosest gun laws have some of the highest.