Steve King Defends Facebook Mockery of Parkland Students, Promotes Myths About School Shootings at Sioux Center Forum

"You really need to have a sense of humor to open up this Facebook page," King told a reporter asking about his campaign's trolling of high school students he claimed were making "unconstitutional statements" and promoting "irrational things"

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Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

At a Thursday town hall meeting at the library in Sioux Center attended by about as many protesters as supporters, Congressman Steve King defended his campaign Facebook page’s mockery of Emma Gonzalez, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting survivor, and echoed a false argument made by President Trump and the National Rifle Association that violent video games were to blame for school shootings.

King told his audience that although he doesn’t run the Facebook page, which for weeks has posted memes insulting the high school student survivors who are now speaking out to demand gun law reforms, he supports the content his campaign staffers — who include his son and daughter-in-law — post on it. “If no one will rebutt the unconstitutional statements that were made and sometimes the irrational things they are promoting, after a while it takes root in the country and then it’s too late to be rational,” he said of the students. “Sometimes you have to take a deep breath and say, ‘Think about what this is saying,’ and that’s what we are doing with the Facebook page.”

At another point, King told the Des Moines Register that “you really need to have a sense of humor to open up this Facebook page,” which drew widespread, national condemnation after mocking Gonzalez over her Cuban heritage and previously contrasted the activism of fellow student and “gun control boi” David Hogg to that of Sophie Scholl, a German university student executed by the Nazis.

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At the Sioux Center library, King also echoed common myths promoted by gun advocates, including Trump and the NRA, about school shootings, claiming they are caused by gun-free zones, overmedicated children, and violent video games.


To the contrary, there is no evidence that any recent mass shooter, at a school or anywhere else, chose their target because it was a so-called gun-free zone. Although several mass shooters had previously shown signs of mental illness, the direct connection between that and their massacres is unclear and likely weak — and evidence suggests that mentally ill people in general are actually less likely to commit acts of violence. And the argument that violent video games are to blame for mass shootings — one that’s been made since the Columbine shooting in 1999 — has been rejected by researchers. It’s still a popular argument for the NRA, even though the organization has partnered with a company that makes violent video games.

King dismissed the protesters at his event, who included potential Democratic rivals Leann Jacobsen and John Paschen, as well as a Republican primary Challenger, Sioux City resident Cyndi Hanson. “All they need to do is look at the polling and election results and they really shouldn’t be insulting the constituents here in this district,” King said.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.