Controversial congressman Steve King responded to hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets against gun violence by mocking the Parkland survivors still mourning the deaths of their classmates.
The western Iowa Republican’s team spent its Sunday insulting those involved with March for Our Lives, including personal attacks on the teenagers who lived through last month’s attack that killed 17 people in Florida.
“This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp after removing all weapons from its citizens, hence their right to self-defense,” his Facebook page posted alongside a picture of 17-year-old Emma Gonzalez.
“When it was my community, where were you? When it was Sandy Hook? Columbine? Were you on the sideline mocking those communities too?” said Brandon J. Wolf, a Pulse shooting survivor who now campaigns against gun violence.
King’s page later denied that it was bullying the teen, who has been the victim of right-wing vitriol over speeches remembering her classmates and calling for stricter gun laws, and said that it was strictly focused on communism in Cuba, whose flag Gonzalez was wearing on her arm.
“Team King” also repeatedly waded into the infested waters of the comment sections below the posts and clicked “like” on at least two posts comparing Gonzalez and fellow students David Hogg to communists.
While the elected representative’s office gave up on polite debate in favor of what it called “triggering lefties,” it joined a string of pro-gun voices that have attacked Gonzalez, Hogg and others.
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An aide to Florida state representative Shawn Kelly lost his job shortly after the Valentine’s Day killing for suggesting the teens were crisis actors, and an NRA TV host was widely criticized over the weekend for telling survivors that “no one would know your names” if their classmates hadn’t been slaughtered.
The federal government’s failure to pass any meaningful gun laws, despite support from the President for ideas such as raising the minimum age to buy an assault rifle to 21, has also focused attention on the National Rifle Association’s donations to lawmakers.
King’s page responded to one criticism and said “The NRA ‘bought’ the congressman’s vote with a paltry sum of $11,500 over a two-year period, eh? Riiiiight.”
“The congressman was adamantly pro-gun long before the NRA wrote any checks. And even if he wasn’t, you should know that $11,500 doesn’t buy anything in DC. But those are just silly facts that stand in the way of your conspiracy theories, huh? — Team King”
Transparency website Open Secrets reported that audits show the NRA spent more than $400 million in 2016, including $30 million to support President Donald Trump and millions more to other candidates.