By Robert Mann

In the days after the deadly June shooting spree in Charleston, S.C., in which nine members of that city’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church died, Gov. Bobby Jindal attacked President Barack Obama’s calls for stricter gun control laws as “completely shameful.”

Instead of doing something about the proliferation of guns and gun violence, Jindal offered only prayer and hugs. Anything else, he suggested, was inappropriate and overtly political. “Now is the time for prayer, now is the time for healing. As far as the political spectrum, this isn’t the time,” Jindal told reporters after a speech in Iowa, where he had begun his remarks by praying for the victims and their families.

“I think it was completely shameful,” Jindal said of Obama’s call for a national discussion about gun control. “Within 24 hours we’ve got the president trying to score cheap political points.”

Now that people have died in a mass shooting in his state — three dead and six injured at a movie theater in Lafayette on Thursday (July 23) — it was, again, not the time to talk about the problem of gun violence. On Thursday night, Jindal, who happened to be in Baton Rouge on a rare visit to Louisiana, rushed to Lafayette to offer prayers and hugs.

When it comes to doing something about the gun violence that afflicts Louisiana, Jindal also offers shrugs. In Jindal’s world, it’s never the right time to debate gun violence or talk about how government should address the problem. And with a mass shooting almost every week, it will never be time in Jindal’s estimation to talk about it. Only hugs and shrugs.

Jindal’s press secretary on Thursday night accused me of politicizing the situation. Among other things, I had taken to Twitter to suggest that Jindal’s sympathy for the victims and their families was cold comfort to a state for which he had done nothing to make us safer from gun violence. If anyone was politicizing the situation, it was Jindal and the NRA leaders he has shamelessly courted for so long.

On Thursday night, as many people were also praying for the victims and their families as they tucked their kids into bed, they also prayed that these deaths, for once, might not be in vain. Maybe this time, they prayed, political leaders like Jindal might be scandalized enough to do something. Maybe this time, they prayed, we might get more than hugs and prayers.

Jindal had every right – and maybe an obligation – to visit Lafayette, although rushing into the teeth of an active crime scene seemed more a distraction than a help just hours after the shooting. Perhaps he should have gone to the hospitals, instead, which he eventually did.

Jindal and his staff, however, have no right to tell the rest of us to park our First Amendment rights and remain silent about the scandal of gun violence while they remain free to defend their Second Amendment rights by attacking any suggestion of stronger gun control laws as “shameful” and badly timed.

Today is exactly the day we should talk about how to stop the violence. But the reason Jindal doesn’t want to talk about gun violence today – or any other day – is that his record is nothing but support for the NRA’s blood-soaked political agenda.

Jindal has opposed every sensible restriction on gun purchases. He’s slashed mental health services in Louisiana. He’s paraded around the country, filling his Twitter feed with odd photos of himself fondling various firearms.

Back home, meanwhile, his state leads the country in gun violence. And it took a mass shooting 60 miles from the Governor’s Mansion to finally stir him to talk to some of its victims? Jindal didn’t need to drive all the way to Lafayette to do that. Mere miles from where he rests his head on the rare occasion he’s in Baton Rouge, people are dying from gunshots almost every day.

Does Jindal ever go to the mean streets of north Baton Rouge or into the violent neighborhoods of New Orleans? Does he ever look into the sad eyes of kids who’ve lost fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters to gun violence? Where are their hugs?

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10 thoughts on “Jindal responds to Lafayette theater shooting with hugs and shrugs

  1. Bob, thanks for writing what many of us were thinking, but couldn’t express with the grace you have. I have thought of at least one more of the prayers Jindal may be sending up, given the season, but I can’t bring myself to write it or even seriously contemplate it.

    On gun control, as I said to my wife when this happened last night, I guess the people who argue against it, would suggest if most of the other people in the theater had been armed, preferably with automatic weapons, they could nave taken the shooter out quickly – what they wouldn’t have considered is the collateral damage likely to result in the shooting of a number of other innocent people during the ensuing melee.


    1. Thanks, Steve. Can you even imagine the additional death and mayhem if the theater had been full of people packing heat? The bullets would have been flying in the dark, more people would have been shot or died — and we night never have known who the real shooter was.


  2. Something will happen when one of the staunch second amendment stalwarts has a family member be gunned down. I like shooting guns: for hunting and sport. Most Americans who enjoy the recreational use of guns want responsible laws. The people have to be engaged in and with their government. Until we the people start making it painful for elected officials to hide behind the Second Amendment, nothing will change. Isn’t it interesting that the gun lobby also refer to themselves as Christians. I pray one day they acknowledge the disconnect.


  3. Gun control is an answer to an oversimplification of the societal problem causing these mass shootings. I am not afraid of a gun in the hand of a mentally healthy person who has gone through the process of obtaining the gun legally. However, I am frightened by a gun in the hands of someone who is mentally unstable who obtains a gun illegally. The true crisis that never seems to be addressed locally, statewide, and nationally is how to respectfully and compassionately take better care of the mentally ill so that they are not a danger to either themselves or the general public. The gun issue is a political distraction that keeps us from correcting the root problems, like mental illness, poor education, and poverty, that contribute to guns being in the hands of people who are not responsible enough to have them. By the way, I am not a Jindal fan at all. He has sacrificed the welfare of this state to make way for his personal, political pursuits..


  4. I am a friend of the Breaux family. You assholes, the writer of this article and commenters of this blog use a tragedy to promote an agenda. You are the worse, most unfeeling, cold hearted people around. What law, short of confiscating every gun in America would have prevented this horrific event. She was in a gun free zone. Do you realize how much of a joke that is? He was nuts, the law says nuts can’t carry guns. Great law there. Tell me Mr. Mann, what law that the evil nra stopped that would still have mayci with us today. You are so smart, so more better than us, so wonderful that you can hit the keyboard and tell us ignorant masses that this event was bobby Jindal and the nra’s fault; because I’m not as smart as you and your followers I can only feel that you are an asshole. I know that’s shallow an uneducated view, but sorry that is the way I feel right now.


    1. Mr. Robert, I am sorry for your loss. Mayci Breaux was a clearly beautiful, talented young woman who did not deserve to die and your anger over her death is understandable. The reasons for prevalence of gun violence in our country and the means to control it are a matter of intense debate, as your comments clearly show. I think we all know the arguments on both sides of the issue, but it is a matter of fact, not opinion, that gun violence is less prevalent in countries where firearms are better controlled and domestic relations are more civil than here. That said, the fact the horse has long been out of the barn here, i. e., our country is awash in weapons of all kinds and violence has become the norm for resolving disputes, means deciding what approach to take here is deeply complicated. That does not mean it is something we should not at least try to address.

      As you imply, much less attention is paid to our policies with regard to the mentally ill. That policy seems to be to largely ignore it. Those with the means to get quality care and treatment get it. The rest wind up in prisons, nursing homes, or, even worse, on the streets.


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