Yale Expert Reminds GOP Senator John Kennedy That Red States Face High Gun Violence

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In a recent hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) had the opportunity to question Megan Ranney of the Yale School of Public Health in Connecticut, and the often grandstanding Republican quickly turned to familiar right-wing talking points maligning big cities.

The topic of the hearing was the occurrence of gun violence across the United States, something Kennedy attempted to construe as a problem of supposedly lax law enforcement practices. The reality is that Republicans have often misrepresented the scope of the law enforcement practices actually being carried out. For example, what are termed sanctuary cities don’t just let anyone do anything, instead simply declining to essentially function as an arm of federal immigration enforcement. There’s a substantial difference.

“Why do you think that Chicago has become America’s largest outdoor shooting range?” Kennedy asked in the drawl that critics have argued he didn’t used to have, speaking in flippant terms about a problem — gun violence — that has real-world impacts in people’s lives. “Do you think it’s because of a finite group of criminals who have rap sheets as long as King Kong’s arm?” the Senator added.

Without missing a beat, Ranney replied: “Mississippi, Louisiana, and Missouri actually have higher firearm death rates. […] I don’t live in Chicago. It’s not my primary area of research. […] I think there’s easy access to firearms combined with environmental conditions, lack of great education. There have actually been studies showing that when you green vacant lots and repair abandoned buildings in urban neighborhoods, you see decreases in gunshots, in violence, as well as in stress and depression in the neighborhoods around them.”

Kennedy replied by comparing what Ranney just told Senators to “word salad,” though it really wasn’t that complicated or long-winded. Kennedy also criticized the idea that ostensibly law-abiding gun owners who simply possessed weapons were meaningfully connected to stats on gun violence… glossing over the incidents that take place stemming from precisely such circumstances, spurred by a gun simply being accessible. Watch below: