This feature appears in the December ‘15 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
Anti-gun groups and politicians have long used tragedies to try to advance their agenda. When a tragic event occurs, we can always count on them to hold press conferences and put forth so-called “solutions”—which are no more than their gun control wish list—often before the facts are even known. Even worse, the “solutions” that they put forward would not have stopped or even been a deterrent to the crime in question.
The shocking murders of two Virginia journalists while they were conducting a live television interview displayed this callous strategy. Within hours of the crime, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe demanded what he called “common-sense gun legislation,” specifically calling for “universal” background checks. But when asked by the press if the murderer had passed a background check, McAuliffe said he didn’t know. The fact is that no piece of legislation pushed by gun control advocates would have stopped him from committing this brutal crime.
In fact, at the time of McAuliffe’s statement, the identity of the perpetrator was still unknown, as was his motive. The type of gun used and the shooter’s method of acquiring it were also unknown—it would take more than a day for that information to come out.
And McAuliffe wasn’t alone.
Barack Obama’s White House and Hillary Clinton weighed in the same day with similar calls for gun control, also before knowing the facts involved.
McAuliffe, Clinton and Obama chose to exploit a violent tragedy to push their political agenda, plain and simple. And they did it with the willing assistance of the anti-gun media, which refused to call them on it because that agenda fits their shared gun control narrative.
The next day, the facts came to light. The deranged individual bought his gun legally, months before he used it, through a federally licensed dealer. He passed a background check because he had no prior criminal record, nor had he been adjudicated mentally ill or committed to a mental institution. The fact is that no piece of legislation pushed by gun control advocates would have stopped him from committing this brutal crime.
McAuliffe knows this, as does Clinton. The White House even admitted—later—that gun control legislation, including so-called “universal” background checks, would not have stopped this. But to them, that’s beside the point. They will use any tragedy as an excuse to push their agenda—regardless of the facts involved. What’s most egregious about it is that by exploiting tragedy to push gun control, they deflect the conversation away from real solutions that would solve our nation’s pressing problems—like fixing our broken mental health system.
And it’s not just politicians who use this craven strategy. Anti-gun groups, such as Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, use the tactic to advance their anti-gun agenda and even raise money. Immediately after a tragedy, they push emotional appeals to promote their cause. Unfortunately, they offer no real solutions to the problems of violence in our communities—just the same old rhetoric, devoid of common sense, logic or even the smallest connection to reality. If anti-gun politicians were really interested in solving problems, instead of using tragedies to push a political agenda, they would work to solve underlying issues.
The list of mass shooters who passed background checks includes the most recent tragedies in Roanoke, Va.; Lafayette, La.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Charleston, S.C. Although our government has spent more than $1 billion on the national background check system over the past two decades, it still lacks the criminal and mental health records on which it’s supposed to rely.
Most people rightly believe that it’s inappropriate to use a tragedy to push a political agenda moments after a tragedy occurs. But that doesn’t stop, or even slow down, proponents of gun control. As a matter of fact, that exact strategy was laid out in their 2012 guide, Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging.
In that guide, anti-gun advocates are directed to immediately hit television, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets with emotional pleas for more gun control as soon as tragedy strikes. Facts don’t matter; the only thing that matters is to advance their agenda.
If anti-gun politicians were really interested in solving problems, instead of using tragedies to push a political agenda, they would work to solve underlying issues. Of course, that would require them to admit that the “solutions” they prescribe are not solutions at all.