ThinkProgress

GOP congresswoman walks back public support for gun control in private right-wing Facebook group

Rep. Mia Love speaks at the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the Birth of Frederick Douglass, in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol, on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. CREDIT: Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In the days after the Parkland shooting that left 17 people dead at a Florida high school last month, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) told Utah state senators that “everything has to be on the table.” Love specifically asked why the teenaged shooter was able to buy an AR-15 and told the The Salt Lake Tribune that she would support stronger background checks, consider banning semi-automatic rifle sales to people under 21 and opposed President Trump’s proposal to arm teachers.

But in a private Facebook group of LDS (Mormon) conservatives, Love backtracked, and said she did not support any additional restrictions on gun sales, according to screenshots obtained by ThinkProgress where Love personally responded in the group to criticism of her comments.

“There’s no reason why this young man should have had or been able to get ahold of an AR(-15),” Love said in her meeting with Utah senators, according to the Deseret News. “We need to make sure our youth aren’t able to get access to these weapons. It’s not just ARs. It’s weapons.”

Love also addressed the issue of arming teachers, saying, “I don’t think that’s going to stop the problem.”

Love also said in the meeting that she was “not elected by the president” and doesn’t see Trump as the leader of her party. In an interview with the Tribune’s editorial board published the next day, Love reiterated her stance about arming teachers and said she was open to raising the age to purchase assault-style rifles from 18 to 21 and increasing some firearm background checks. She said she was unsure whether she would support an assault weapons ban.

The stance upset some members of Love’s conservative base, and Love personally responded to the complaints by backtracking, saying what she actually meant by everything being on the table was that she was open to looking at violent music and movies.

SCREENSHOT VIA FACEBOOK

“As for everything being on the table, I’m talking about Hollywood violent movie [sic], horrible video games and explicit music that kids are listen [sic] to,” Love wrote. “When did we allow Hollywood to be our guide to morality. People want to look at guns, they should also look and [sic] what is poisoning our children’s minds.”

Pressed by members in the group, Love blamed the media, saying, “When did we start listening to the media? They are very good at leaving things out.”

SCREENSHOT VIA FACEBOOK

Love also backtracked on her stance on arming teachers. (Utah is one of a small number of states that allows — or doesn’t explicitly prohibit — teachers carrying concealed weapons in K-12 schools.)

“If a teacher is trained and wants to carry, they should. I support that. What I was referring to was my response in the media. It was asked if I wanted to force teachers to be armed,” Love said. “I said that doesn’t make any sense… Teachers who want to be armed and trained is fine. But do you want to force all teachers to be armed? Think about it?”

SCREENSHOT VIA FACEBOOK

One of group member pushed back, saying, “Strawman argument. I did not say FORCED, I said SUPPORTED.”

SCREENSHOT VIA FACEBOOK

Reached for comment about Love’s apparent backtrack, Rich Piatt, a spokesperson for Love, pointed to a paragraph from an op-ed Love wrote last week in the Deseret News.

“This is a complex issue with many contributing factors, and it’s important that we look at everything that is contributing to these devastating events. It’s equally important that legislative solutions are informed and truly enhance school safety,” Love wrote in the column published last Friday. “For example, deputizing teachers en masse may not be the best answer. These good men and women are working in schools to focus on educating and helping students, not to be law enforcers.”

Pressed for specific comment on Love’s remarks about violent movies, video games, and music, Piatt only said, “Her position hasn’t changed. Everything on the table means what she said in the op ed.”