The relationship between the Biden White House and the newly minted highest-ranking Republican in the country, House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), is already off to a testy start.
The White House rebuked comments Johnson made to Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night, a day after 18 people were killed in two mass shootings in Maine, in which Johnson said that guns are not the cause of America’s unique mass shooting crises.
Saying that it was “not the time” to talk about gun control, he told Hannity, “The problem is the human heart. It’s not guns, it’s not the weapons. At the end of the day, we have to protect the right of the citizens to protect themselves, and that’s the Second Amendment, and that’s why our party stands so strongly for that.”
White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates issued a blistering response to the notion.
“We absolutely reject the offensive accusation that gun crime is uniquely high in the United States because of Americans’ ‘hearts,’” he said. “Gun crime is uniquely high in the United States because congressional Republicans have spent decades choosing the gun industry’s lobbyists over the lives of innocent Americans.”
The shooting was the 37th mass killing in the U.S. so far this year, according to a database set up by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University. At least 190 people have died in those massacres.
The body of Robert Card, the 40-year-old Army Reservist accused of using an assault rifle to kill 18 people at a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston, was discovered in woods near his abandoned car on Friday evening, following a two-day manhunt. Card had suffered “acute” mental health issues in recent months, his sister-in-law told The Daily Beast.