John Boehner: “I’m Sorry, but a Gun Is Not a Disease”

Listen to the House speaker explain why the GOP killed research on gun violence yet again.

House Speaker John Boehner.Bao Dandan/Xinhua/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Last week, after a shooter killed nine parishioners at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, the House Appropriations Committee quietly voted on a bill to effectively block any funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research the causes of gun violence in America. At a press conference last Thursday, a reporter from WNYC’s The Takeaway asked House Speaker John Boehner about the committee’s vote, which was just part of a decades-long string of Republican rejections of official efforts to study gun violence. Boehner responded with this familiar argument:

Listen, the CDC is there to look at diseases that need to be dealt with to protect the public health. I’m sorry, but a gun is not a disease. And guns don’t kill people; people do. And when people use weapons in a horrible way, we should condemn the actions of the individual, not blame the action on some weapon. Listen, there are hundreds of millions of weapons in America. They’re there. And they’re going to be there. They’re protected under the Second Amendment. But people who use weapons in an inappropriate or illegal way ought to be dealt with severely.

In the wake of the mass shooting in Charleston, President Obama expressed frustration with Congress for not passing gun safety reforms, and underscored the immense and untold cost of gun violence. “Whether it’s a mass shooting like the one in Charleston, or individual attacks of violence that add up over time, it tears at the fabric of the community,” Obama told a room full of mayors two weeks ago. “It costs you money, and it costs resources. It costs this country dearly.”

Read more about the staggering costs of gun violence in this recent Mother Jones investigation.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate