The story of a puppy who died on a United Airlines flight this week shocked many Americans, after reports surfaced that a flight attendant put the dog's crate in an overhead bin despite the owner's protests.
But after a Republican senator immediately pledged to introduce legislation that would prevent such deaths, critics noted the disconnect between the lawmaker's rapid response to the incident involving pet safety and his dismissive attitude towards gun control efforts aimed at ending the mass slaughter of human beings, including students and children, each year.
I will be filing a bill tomorrow that will prohibit airlines from putting animals in overhead bins. Violators will face significant fines. Pets are family.
— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) March 14, 2018
Good for you. But it’s funny how fast you worked for an animal as opposed to children in school being massacred. I love my pets dearly, but I love my family including kids in my family more. Thanks
— Lewis (@Spider_5466) March 15, 2018
Kennedy tweeted his response to the dog's death on the same day that thousands of students, teachers, and parents across the nation staged protests demanding stricter gun control reforms, including universal background checks and strengthening of the background check system, a ban on military-style weapons like the AR-15, and a raised minimum age for gun purchasers.
The demonstrations marked one month since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people were killed—just the latest of several mass shootings in recent years, many of which involved the AR-15.
Kennedy has shrugged off proposals for gun control reforms in recent weeks, saying, "I don't think we need more gun control laws...we need more idiot control." The senator has received more than $200,000 from the National Rifle Association (NRA) over the course of his career.
The Department of Transportation found last month that 18 animals died last year while in the care of United. In a letter to the airline on Wednesday, Kennedy called the pattern of deaths "simply inexcusable."
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"I write to demand an immediate explanation for the number of animals who have died recently in United Airlines' care," the senator wrote.
While various pieces of legislation on a range of priorities are proposed, debated, and voted on every day in Washington, many on social media were struck by the irony of a lawmaker who has dismissed gun control measures proposed in the interest of protecting American schoolchildren—7,000 of whom have been killed by gun violence in the last five years, according to the CDC—now demanding to know what can be done to protect dogs from airplane deaths.
John Kennedy's many, many mentions on his tweet note his opposition to gun control while legislating overhead bin control. https://t.co/zCgg0qRbVR
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) March 15, 2018
How about sneaking in an assault weapons ban in that bill too?
— Miss G (@GCasale) March 14, 2018
— Vector Ø (@We_are_Vector) March 15, 2018
17 people die in a high school and a month later there's a nationwide protest to get the attention of lawmakers.
One dog dies on an airplane and there's a bill in the Senate rectifying it within 48 hours. https://t.co/YISKBPgtkS
— Dennis Mersereau (@wxdam) March 14, 2018