In the wake of a Bastille Day terrorist attack in Nice, France in which 84 were left dead and many more injured when a truck drove through a crowd, some conservative politicians and pundits have used the tragedy to sarcastically call for “truck control” in an absurd attempt to refute calls for gun control after mass shootings.
Foremost among them is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who took to Fox News to say that because there was one attack involving a truck, he now believed President Barack Obama would call for regulations on trucks.
“I fully expect by tomorrow morning that President Obama will have rediscovered his left-wing roots and will give a press conference in which he will explain the problem is too many trucks,” Gingrich said. “If only we had truck regulation then we wouldn’t have problems like Nice. Because it is trucks that are dangerous. I mean that is the exact analogue to Orlando and just tells you how nuts the left-wing in America is.“
Also on Fox News, Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism pundit and distinguished chair of military theory at Marine Corps University, argued that because Democrats called for gun control after the Orlando shooting, the current equivalent would be to argue for a ban on trucks after the attack on Nice.
“I mean, what is the president going to do tomorrow?” Gorka said on Sean Hannity’s show. “Is he going to ban trucks in America? Because that’s what he said after Orlando and San Bernardino. We have to ban semi-automatic rifles. I mean, this is the absurd situation. We have a political elite in a fantasy land.”
Another media figure to weigh in on the attack was James Delingpole, a writer at Breitbart, who tweeted about truck control following Thursday’s attack.
Ban trucks! We need truck control, like they have in Canada https://t.co/gDeNsVHqfe
— James Delingpole (@JamesDelingpole) July 15, 2016
Canada does not, in fact, have any kind of legislation on truck control. However, Canada does have comprehensive gun control laws, and there is no legal right to possess a firearm.
Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) sent out this tweet as part of his response to the attack.
Wondering if the president is going to propose truck control now. #FranceTruckAttack
— Rep. Garret Graves (@RepGarretGraves) July 15, 2016
Wendy Long, the GOP candidate challenging Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for his senate seat, also said the natural response from Democrats to the attack would be to call for “truck control.”
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) suggested that the lesson of the Nice attack is that if stricter gun regulations were implemented, terrorists would simply find another way to carry out attacks.
Islamic terrorists will use every tool at their disposal; whether it is an airplane, a boat, truck, pressure-cooker, knife, or a gun.
— Rep. Jeff Duncan (@RepJeffDuncan) July 15, 2016
Duncan chastised government officials for focusing “on the method more than the terrorists themselves.”
This is not the first time Duncan has tried to shift the conversation away from guns after an attack. On the three-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, the Congressman made a “knife control” joke. In response to a report about a teacher in Paris who was stabbed by an ISIS sympathizer, Duncan tweeted, “I doubt France will respond by demanding more knife control.”
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) echoed the notion that gun control won’t help prevent attacks because terrorists will use anything to carry out violence.
The horror of yesterday's #NiceAttack remind us terrorists will use trucks, guns, & bombs to kill. Bans aren't answer; resolve & plan are.
— Rep. Vicky Hartzler (@RepHartzler) July 15, 2016
All of the politicians and pundits above oppose gun control measures and Duncan actually co-sponsored the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, a bill that would have loosened restrictions on interstate gun purchases.
The effort by these conservatives in arguing that because Democrats have called for gun control following mass shootings they should also call for “truck control” after the attack in Nice is a false equivalency. It attempts to equate this singular instance of a truck being used as the mechanism for carrying out an attack with the hundreds of mass shootings in the U.S. in 2016 alone. Sarcastic calls for “truck control” and equating it with gun control makes a mockery of efforts to enact serious gun violence prevention measures, which have repeatedly failed to gain traction in Congress after mass shootings.
Celisa Calacal and Evan Popp are interns with ThinkProgress.