Congressman Steve Knight was silent for an entire week after the latest stomach-turning gun massacre. We didn’t even get his frequent refrain of thoughts and prayers. Then, a full seven days later, he released a new survey on firearms.
Actually, that’s not 100 percent accurate. He wasn’t totally quiet. He spent the entire week after the ghastly slaughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School trying to tug on his own suspenders with self-congratulating Facebook updates about the tax breaks that MetLife and U-Haul are getting (at the expense of you losing your state and local tax deduction.)
He didn’t want to talk about the 17 people shot to death at that Parkland high school, but the people of our community definitely did. Each of his irrelevant tax-boast posts filled up with disgusted and incensed comments from constituents, many of whom pointed out his longtime dedication to weakening gun laws. Among the topics raised was his vote last year to lift an Obama-era restriction preventing gun sales to the severely mentally ill. His career is full of votes like this.
As a state assemblyman, Knight voted against background checks aimed at preventing people with criminal records from stockpiling ammunition. He voted to protect high-capacity magazines, like those used in the Newtown and Las Vegas shootings, and he voted against expanding the list of crimes that disqualify a person from firearm ownership. (If you think any of this is exaggeration, it’s not. You can verify it all and more on VoteSmart.org.)
Steve Knight is a “Friend of NRA.” He takes money from that lobbying group and has appeared onstage with that banner. So you can understand why he hid for so long from the topic of the most recent massacre perpetrated by a 19-year-old who should never have been able to purchase an AR-15.
But why didn’t Knight lay low completely? What was behind those shockingly tone-deaf posts about big businesses giving one-time tax bill bonuses to employees?
Knight was hyping these things because he has a daunting sales job ahead of him. The tax bill he bet his career on is pickpocket legislation, stealing from the working class and expanding the national debt in order to steer that money to the already ultra-wealthy. It will hurt many people in our community in numerous ways. And we know it.
The people of CA-25 are just as aware of the repercussions of Knight’s tax vote as they are about his many dangerous votes against gun safety.
A new poll from the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley finds only 37 percent of likely voters in our district approve of Knight, and 53 percent disapprove, with 40 percent “strongly” disapproving (which means they will be highly motivated to oust him in November.) Half of the likely voters polled said his vote on the tax bill made them less likely to support his re-election.
That’s why Knight is tapdancing now, shamelessly trying to claim credit for other people’s work bonuses even while America convulsed in grief from yet another massacre. He’s like a guy walking into a funeral home and grinning at the mourners: “Guess who just found five bucks?”
Life goes on, of course. Had he immediately reacted to the Parkland massacre, you could almost forgive him for later moving on to other business. But that’s not what happened.
Continuing to congratulate himself must have seemed a lot more appealing than dealing with his own responsibility as an NRA accomplice.
Although his newly released survey on firearms may seem like a step in the right direction, nothing about his history suggests Knight really means it this time. On his own website, he makes inaction on gun violence a campaign promise: “There is no law Congress can pass to stop gun violence,” it states.
That’s not leadership. That’s hopelessness. That’s surrender.
Perhaps sensing the public is sick of this nihilism and excuse-making, he has reversed course in his new survey. Knight now writes: “It is clear that gun violence is a serious problem that must be addressed by the federal government to protect American lives and secure our communities.”
Either he has undergone a massive change of heart, or this is just another “thoughts and prayers” platitude to make him look good. As his tax-bill spin shows, the only thing that truly motivates Knight is self-preservation.
Fortunately, we have a test for whether he is serious about meaningful gun control legislation. Steve Knight has a chance to actually prove himself. Or not.
He is currently the co-sponsor of a bill known as “Concealed Carry Reciprocity.” In short, it would shred the strict regulations that some states, like California, have enacted about who can get a permit to carry a loaded, hidden gun.
Some states have extremely lax concealed carry laws (or no permits required at all) and the bill Knight is co-sponsoring would allow people from those places to cross state lines with their hidden firearms with zero accountability and zero restrictions.
The bill recklessly undermines laws from states who are trying desperately to stop the proliferation of guns. The Fraternal Order of Police, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and more than 60 of the largest police and sheriff’s departments have denounced it as a danger to both civilians and law enforcement.
Whether it’s taxes or guns or any host of issues, Knight often helps create many of the problems he says he wants to fix. He’s the firebug who shows up later asking to grab a hose.
If he’s suddenly serious about gun control, he must prove it by withdrawing support for “Concealed Carry Reciprocity” and joining the overwhelming number of law enforcement organizations who oppose it.
If he doesn’t, we’ll know that, like his tax hype, this is just more useless Steve Knight spin. He should be aware by now—we the people are on to him.
Anthony Breznican is a Santa Clarita resident