Pro-gun commentator Dana Loesch referenced a 19th century massacre of Native Americans to imply the U.S. government would slaughter its own citizens in order to enforce an assault weapons ban.
During the third Democratic presidential primary debate on September 12, candidate Beto O’Rourke doubled down on his proposed assault weapons ban and mandatory buyback program, telling ABC News host and debate moderator David Muir: “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.” The remark drew criticism from Republican Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain, who threatened O’Rourke after his debate appearance in a since-deleted tweeted that read, “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis.”
Loesch, a former National Rifle Association spokesperson, appeared on Fox News the following night to denounce the proposed policies and accuse O’Rourke of making “a threat” to “forcibly steal [gunowners’] lawfully owned and responsibly used property.” Loesch also referenced the massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, which she said was “one of the earliest attempts at mass confiscation of firearms in the United States.” “So I don’t know if that’s what Democrats and Beto O’Rourke are trying to move us towards,” she said.
The massacre Loesch implied the Democrats “are trying to move us towards” took place in 1890 after the U.S. Army surrounded a group of Lakota Sioux Indians and demanded they give up their weapons. A shot was fired when a fight broke out between a tribe member and a soldier, and 150 Sioux were killed by Army cavalry in the massacre that followed (though some historians claim the actual number of casualties was up to twice as high). Around half of the victims were women and children.
President Donald Trump previously invoked Wounded Knee to make fun of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, suggesting she should have filmed a campaign commercial from “Wounded Knee … with her husband dressed in full Indian garb.”
Loesch’s insensitive and offensive reference to the slaughter of Native Americans is just her latest attempt to fearmonger about an assault weapons ban. Following O’Rourke’s comments at the third Democratic debate, Loesch tweeted on September 13 that such a policy is a “state-sanctioned threat.” The next day, she said on Fox News’ Watters World that a ban and buyback is “implicit forcible theft, which would result in violence.”
Loesch also hosted Cain on the September 13 edition of her radio program, The Dana Show, and echoed other conservative media figures to defend his tweet, saying it was not a threat and instead claiming that O’Rourke’s proposed policy was the real danger.