A freedom of information request from The Baltimore Post’s Ann Costantino has revealed an exchange between two former top Obama administration officials that sheds light on the Left’s coordinated effort to push gun control after every heartbreaking school shooting.
The exchange, which took place between then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and “never let a crisis go to waste” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who had been President Obama’s chief of staff, shows the two men trading suggestions on how to use the tragedy that claimed the lives of 26 Sandy Hook Elementary School students and teachers to “tap peoples emotion [sic]” and further their goal of stricter gun control.
Just two days after the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting in 2012, and before any bodies of the dead were laid to rest, Duncan and Emanuel talked political leverage. From Costantino:
At 6:57PM EST on December 16, 2012, Duncan wrote to Emanuel in a message titled ‘CT shootings.’
Duncan asked the Chicago mayor, ‘What are your thoughts?’
Five minutes later, Emanuel responded, ‘Go for a vote this week before it fades. Tap peoples emotion. Make it simple assault weapons.’
Duncan responded immediately, ‘Yup- thanks.’
‘When I did brady bill and assault weapons for clinton we always made it simple. Criminals or war weapons,’ Emanuel said in the email to Duncan.
‘Gun show loophole?’ Duncan responded. ‘Database? Cop-killer bullets? Too complicated?’ he said.
‘Cop killer maybe,’ Emanuel responded. ‘The other no.’
The exchange ended when Duncan concluded with, ‘Got it.’
These revelations come just after Duncan, who spent much of his career urging kids to stay in school, said in an interview and on Twitter this month that he supports a school boycott until gun laws are changed.
That the Left uses grief in the immediate aftermath of school shootings to start (and restart, and restart) the gun control debate is nothing new to conservatives, but these emails highlight that push is coordinated from the top. Compliant media outlets play along by focusing only on the “solution” that infringes on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, to the exclusion of covering any other lessons from Parkland, Santa Fe, and other recent school shootings that could point to real, common-sense ways to reduce this kind of devastation.
The exchange looks even worse in light of evidence that the discipline policies Duncan pushed as Obama’s education secretary have contributed to increased violence in America’s schools and helped the Parkland shooter avoid the arrest record that could’ve prevented him from purchasing weapons. Just two years after Duncan sent these emails about using Newtown as political fodder for gun control, his Department of Education issued a guidance letter. Through threats of expensive federal investigations, it forced dozens of large school districts to implement discipline policies similar to those in Broward County, Florida, that contributed to another school shooting.
These policies of not recording and lessening consequences for violent behavior ensured that the shooter, who committed multiple potential felonies prior to the February 14 Parkland tragedy, had a clean record. He was thus free to purchase the gun he used to kill 14 students and three school staff.
Aside from making it possible for the Parkland shooter to purchase his murder weapon, Duncan’s policies have created havoc and dangerous situations for students in districts where they have been implemented, with stunned parents being told that the policies come from on high only after their children were hurt by the consequences.
Baltimore mom Nicole Landers, who heads the Facebook support group Parent2Parent Network with her husband, and whose horrific experiences with the discipline policies at her children’s school I documented for The Federalist last month, had this to say to Duncan: “It appears that former Secretary Duncan was and is using the gun control platform to deflect from his failed educational policies which have negatively impacted nearly 51 million students and over three million teachers nationwide.”
The whole chain of events surrounding school shootings for the past decade or more showcases yet again why it’s so important that conservatives invest political energy in breaking liberal monopolies over cultural institutions. Two high-ranking Democratic officials can concoct a campaign to steer the natural response to a vicious mass murder towards a tenuously connected policy only because the ideological left controls the media and, increasingly, K-12 education.
It is critical that the Right both calls out the hollowness of these left-controlled institutions, and strengthens our own parallel organizations. Americans are increasingly waking up to fact that the institutions they have thought of as neutral or unbiased are anything but. Applying that understanding should mean supporting competition to legacy media outlets and implementing broad school choice to free families from sending their children—and tax dollars—to a public school system captive to special interests at odds with their values.