By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org
HELENA – In the wake of last week’s horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., a number of lawmakers are rethinking their pro-gun stances, but not Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
Last week, 20-year-old Adam Lanza used a high-powered rifle to massacre 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, 20 of them children between the ages of 6 and 7.
The brutal attack sparked a nationwide debate about gun regulation, mental health care and the American culture of violence. Talking heads and politicos looking to politicize the tragedy for ratings or popularity among voters have blamed the shooting on everything from lack of mental health care access nationally to a media that turns shooters into competitors and heroes.
A number of pro-National Rifle Association lawmakers, including West Virginia’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, are now re-thinking their nearly open-ended commitment to pro-gun policies, arguing for a national discussion on gun control.
Schweitzer’s not buying what Manchin and others are selling.
During a morning radio interview Tuesday, the outgoing governor said that while guns might be deadly, so are propane and gasoline.
“I don’t want to sound like a terrorist here, but you give me 20 gallons of propane, I can do a lot of damage in a very short period of time,” the governor told radio host Aaron Flint. “If there are evil people they can use guns, or as we’ve seen in Russia, they can also use things like propane. You can use natural gas. Five gallons of gasoline and imagine what can happen.”
California U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said earlier this week she will introduce an assault weapons ban on the first day of Congress next year. President Barack Obama said he actively supports legislation and will push Congress to pass such a measure.
Schweitzer blasted renewed gun control talk as political grandstanding and “more motion masquerading as action … in Washington, D.C.”
Instead of talking about the guns, the gregarious governor urged a national discussion of the violence culture now gripping Americans, especially youth.
“This is evil and it has everything to do with mental illness and, look, I’m going to pick on somebody right now,” Schweitzer said. “You wanna pick on somebody? How about those video game manufacturers, where an entire generation are glued to a screen for six to eight hours a day while they are poking buttons and blowing other people up and shooting them in the face.”
The governor stopped short of prescribing any solutions to reverse America’s addiction to violent movies and video games.
Montana’s three-member congressional delegation hasn’t offered thoughts on the Newtown massacre. Each member, Democratic U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester and Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, earns high marks from the NRA.
Schweitzer, term-limited after eight years in office, leaves the governor’s mansion in early January.
Contact Dustin@Watchdog.org or @DustinHurst via Twitter.