An Ohio state lawmaker who represents a district located just miles from the site of a mass shooting on August 4 responded to the incident by blaming gay and trans folks, drag queens, former President Barack Obama, and others.
State Representative Candice Keller, who represents Butler County between Cincinnati and Dayton, made the insensitive remarks after a gunman wearing a mask and bulletproof vest opened fire as folks in Dayton were leaving bars in a popular nightlife area shortly after 1 a.m. that same day. That mass shooting came hours after a racist shooter who feared an “Hispanic invasion of Texas” murdered 22 people and injured dozens more in a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
In a long-winded Facebook post, Keller asked, “Why not place the blame where it belongs?” She then went on to blame “the breakdown of the traditional American family (thank you, transgender, homosexual marriage, and drag queen advocates)” and further pointed to “the acceptance of recreational marijuana,” “disrespect to law enforcement,” “the ignoring of violent video games,” and “hatred of our veterans.” With each point, Keller cast blame on various individuals and groups. She blamed anti-police rhetoric on Obama and said professional athletes are responsible for disrespecting veterans.
Keller’s post echoed many of the same talking points echoed by her fellow Republicans — including the oft-mentioned excuse of video games as a reason for gun violence. And, like other Republicans who have been reluctant to speak up about gun control, Keller has ties to the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has been a driving force behind the stalling of gun control legislation.
“I hold memberships with the NRA, United States Conceal Carry Association, and Buckeye Firearms Association,” Keller writes on her campaign website, votec
On that website, Keller’s list of endorsements include those three organizations as well as other gun rights groups such as Ohioans for Concealed Carry. She is also backed by anti-abortion groups like Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati.
Keller ended her Facebook post with a cryptic reference to things to come. “Did I forget anybody? The list is long. And the fury will continue.”
Many of the same Republicans who have rejected gun control initiatives also have been silent on the role of racism in many of the mass shootings. In addition to the El Paso shooter’s rhetoric about an “Hispanic invasion,” numerous other mass shootings — including the 2016 Charleston, South Carolina, shooting where 21-year-old Dylann Roof murdered nine black people at a church — have consisted of cases of white men acting out on their own racist beliefs.
Marti Gould Cummings, a New York-based drag queen and Democratic activist, responded to Keller in a Twitter post on August 5, saying, “Well, as a drag queen working to end gun violence, I blame the President & his enablers whose words fire up white suprematist [sic].”
Attempts to reach Keller’s office by phone on August 5 were unsuccessful.