Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s former aide, has claimed that calling for gun control after the worst shooting in modern US history is the “exact” same as Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.
At least 59 people have died and more than 500 were injured after a gunman fired into the crowd at a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Hilton, who now hosts his own show on Fox News in the US, tweeted to condemn Hillary Clinton’s call for people to take on gun rights advocates to “stop this from happening again”.
Hilton, who was Cameron’s director of strategy until 2012, responded: “This is the EXACT equivalent for a ‘complete and total shutdown’ of Muslim immigration hours after an Islamist terror attack.”
Trump proposed shutting down all US borders to Muslims in December 2015, shortly after a Muslim couple carried out the San Bernardino mass shooting, killing 14 people.
The ban was condemned as “divisive, stupid and wrong” by then-prime minister Cameron and Trump was accused of “stoking hatred” by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
One of Trump’s first acts as president in January this year was to sign an executive order banning travel to the US from seven Muslim countries - Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.
Not content with just focusing on the broader gun control debate, Hilton also took issue with Hillary Clinton’s comments on gun silencers.
Clinton had said the Las Vegas gunman would have killed more if he had a silencer, which the National Rifle Association (NRA) wants to make it easier for people to acquire.
Hilton responded by saying that warning that silencers could make shooters more deadly was the “EXACT” same thing as calling for there to be fewer Muslims in Europe.
Hilton moved to defend himself as commentators piled in to criticise his comparison. He insisted he wasn’t defending the Muslim ban.
Times columnist Hugo Rifkind struggle to comprehend what Hilton meant, asking:
Rifkind pointed out the flawed logic of the comparison...
...So Hilton said he was comparing the “same instant politization” of being “anti-Muslim” and “anti-guns”.
Rifkind ended their conversation with a withering assessment of Hilton’s comment.
Broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer asked: “You think people being able to freely buy assault rifles in the US so they can kill people *isn’t* political?!?!?”
Hilton defended the politicisation argument, saying you would “never going to get sensible gun control that way”.
Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman identified the flaw in Hilton’s analogy.
“Are Muslims capable of emitting 100s of bullets from their bodies in just a few minutes? Because, if so, then your analogy totally works,” she said.
Hilton didn’t reply this.
Freeman sarcastically said that the fact Hilton had written “EXACT” in capitalised left her “totally convince” he was right.
Hilton became a figure of fun among journalists in his time working for Cameron, where he earned a reputation for walking around Downing Street offices in bare feet.
He was the inspiration for jargon-loving ‘blue sky thinker’ spin doctor Stewart Pearson in the political sitcom ‘The Thick Of It’.
Hilton backed Brexit and previously backed Trump over Clinton in last year’s election, saying he “would make the most positive, practical difference in the real lives of real people”.
He recently began hosting a show on Fox News.