“Now do AR-15s,” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who was among several prominent voices, including Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts, the March for Our Lives movement, comedian Dave Weasel and actress Bette Midler, in drawing the comparison with guns.
In announcing his intent to crack down on e-cigarettes, President Trump on Wednesday cited concern for young people, saying, “We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our youth be so affected.” The first lady feels “very, very strongly” about the problem because of their 13-year-old son, Barron, he added.
Those comments added to the anger over the absence of progress on gun control, with Twitter commentators expressing astonishment that the first couple sees e-cigarettes as the greater threat.
Calls for legislation addressing gun violence have ramped up in recent months. On Thursday, one day after Trump’s e-cigarette announcement, the CEOs of 145 U.S. companies urged Senate leaders to expand background checks for gun purchases and strengthen red-flag laws. The executives, who lead companies such as Yelp, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Levi Strauss, wrote that they had a responsibility to “stand up for the safety of our employees, customers and all Americans in the communities we serve across the country."
“Doing nothing about America’s gun-violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety," the letter said.
Research has consistently found that a majority of Americans support background checks, gun licensing, assault weapons bans and other gun-control laws. Yet more than 20 years have passed since Congress passed significant gun-safety regulations.
In comparing politicians’ willingness to address vaping with their hesitation on guns, some Twitter commentators made sarcastic use of familiar arguments against gun control.
But others didn’t seem to be in the joking mood.