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Marjorie Taylor Green, guns and domestic terrorism

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Today, Valentine’s Day, will mark three years since this holiday was ruined for my family. On Feb. 14, 2018, a gunman armed with an AR-15 rifle and swastika-engraved magazines, murdered my father, Chris Hixon, and 16 others, while wounding another 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

In late January, it came to light that newly-elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) agreed with a 2018 Facebook post that the tragedy at Parkland was a “false flag” conspiracy. Greene received backlash from more comments she made concerning the deadly shooting.

I wish every day she was right and the shooting hadn’t happened. Unfortunately for me, my family and scores of others are still grieving, while Greene has had her committee posts taken away — but she still sits in Congress and she has the support of her colleagues on Capitol Hill. Her conspiracy-theory beliefs are a threat to the safety of our nation.

I and countless others can attest to the violence and pain unleashed on our community that February 2018. I helped identify my father’s lifeless body. I prepared his Navy dress white uniform for his burial. 

How did we get to a place where we need to explain — and relive over and over again — our most tragic moments to a member of Congress?

Greene isn’t alone. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) has been linked in the past to the QAnon conspiracy group and claims to carry a gun at all times. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) told an interviewer that he was armed in the House chamber during the Jan. 6 insurrectionist attack at the Capitol. On Jan. 22, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) was stopped by Capitol Police and found to have a gun while entering the House chamber.

These members of Congress demonstrate the undeniable link between conspiracy theories and extreme unreasonable views on guns. They treat guns like performance art, boasting when they break rules and laws, ignoring the potential lethality of guns. They certainly have no intention to pass new laws that might prevent gun violence in America.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established that guns are a preferred tool of potential domestic terrorists, due to virtually unfettered access to them by people who wish to do our country harm.

In 2015, nine churchgoers were killed in a mass shooting in Charleston. At a synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, a gunman killed 11 people. And in El Paso in 2019, 23 people were murdered at a Walmart. These three acts of domestic terror explicitly targeted Blacks, Jewish people and Mexicans, respectively.

Meanwhile, Congress has failed to issue any recent legislation to prevent gun violence. The House passed a bill in February 2019 mandating background checks on all gun sales, and a majority of Americans support stricter gun legislation. However, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to bring the legislation to the Senate floor.  

I am a pro-Second Amendment gun owner and a Marine Corps veteran with center-right political leanings. I strongly support the right to bear arms, which comes with responsibilities, but it seems that certain members of Congress have abdicated their responsibility to protect citizens against domestic terror by making the terrorists’ weapons of choice so readily available.

I am also sympathetic to how an average person can fall prey to extremist beliefs. I was transitioning off active duty when my father was killed. Leaving the Marine Corps, I was in my lowest place, searching for meaning and belonging. With a few poor decisions, I might have fallen in with the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers — groups that often appeal to people who might feel lost or disillusioned.

Many political-action and extremist groups try to recruit heavily from the ranks of the military and veterans, valuing their weapons skills and, in some cases, perhaps hoping to use taxpayer-funded tactical training against the interests of the United States. This was seemingly on display on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol, where one in five of the insurrectionists who have been arrested so far were veterans. 

Members of Congress should never be among those who espouse conspiracy theories, oppose all common-sense gun safety laws and foment the kind of hatred that may motivate acts of domestic terrorism. Instead, Congress should move forward with legislation addressing background checks, red-flag laws and domestic violence — among other factors — that will prevent gun deaths. 

Thomas Hixon is the vice president of the nonprofit Chris Hixon Athletic Scholarship Fund. He served as a Marine Corps officer.

Tags Andy Harris Conspiracy theories domestic terrorism gun laws Gun reform Guns Lauren Boebert Madison Cawthorn Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Marjorie Taylor Greene Mitch McConnell Parkland shooting QAnon

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