The Republican “response” to the first police testimony before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection has mainly centered on telling reporters that they were far too busy with their Very Important Work to pay attention to such frivolities. This is coupled with the usual stock claims that the probe is a partisan witch hunt that Democrats have only willed into existence to make Republicans look bad, and everyone is making far too much of this recent attempt to overthrow the government of the United States and we should all just move on already.
Sen. Ron Johnson is one of the Republicans who has invested significant time in portraying the violence of Jan. 6 as tragic, to be sure, but being terribly oversold by Democrats, liberals, CNN, and Republicanism’s ever-expanding list of antifascist enemies. The Ron Johnson mantra is, loosely, that it just wasn’t that big a deal.
Ah ha! Take that, people who still want to investigate a violent insurrection a whole six months after the fact. How can you say it was serious if there were no guns confiscated?
The problem, as a great many people who are not Ron Johnson and will never be Ron Johnson pointed out, is that that’s false. There were most certainly guns “confiscated” that day. Johnson is once again repeating a Trumpian claim that simply isn’t true, one that’s already been fact-checked. Guns were brought to the Capitol, and arrests were made for it.
The reason there weren’t more guns confiscated that day was, as repeatedly testified to by officers on the scene and their superiors, because officers were fighting for their lives as a mob of attackers assaulted them with Tasers, bear spray, makeshift weapons, and thrown objects. Arrests weren’t happening. Searching suspects wasn’t happening. Even when enough backup arrived to expel the rioters from the building, the rioters were allowed to leave without arrests being made because officers could still not risk the crowd turning even more violent.
We’ll likely never have even a vague count of how many guns were carried into the Capitol that day, but we do know that guns were present. And in arrests of identified insurrectionists afterwards, police confiscated enough guns and ammunition to kill every member of Congress several times over.
So this is just Johnson being an insufferable asshole, yet again, for no good reason. He and other Republicans are so invested in portraying an attempt to topple government as of no particular political note—nobody important died on that day, after all—that they are willing to grasp at whatever straws they can. Would a supposed lack of gun-related arrests intended to paint the crowd as not as violent as it could have been, when beating police officers and chanting about hanging Mike Pence?
Would it not count as terrorism if the terrorists did not use guns? Is that where he’s going with this? Because there are quite a few famous terrorist incidents in which guns were not used. Perhaps Johnson’s staff could look them up.
In any event, the Republicans who promoted the false election claims used by the insurrectionists to justify their attempted overthrow of government aren’t reevaluating their life choices based on the testimony of four law enforcement officers attacked by the crowd that day. The party intends to pretend that they did not directly incite an insurrection through their own propaganda.
That’s because it didn’t work. If it had worked, Johnson and the others would be standing in front of the cameras portraying the insurrection as a new American Revolution, one that would finally allow the nation to achieve its anti-democratic greatness by solidifying Republicanism as a greater force than elections themselves. We still might see that one in the next midterms, if Georgia Republicans have their way.