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Anti-gunners trying to out-exploit one another over Isla Vista

Anti-gunner Shannon Watts is exploiting the Isla Vista slayings to press a domestic violence bill that has nothing to do with the crime.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Gun prohibitionists at the Brady Campaign and Moms Demand Action appear to be trying to out-do one another today in exploiting the Santa Barbara murder spree, with one blaming the “corporate gun lobby” and the other suggesting that the answer to Isla Vista is a domestic violence law co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and this after a Washington Post movie critic on Sunday blamed white male Hollywood fantasies.

Meanwhile, today in the Seattle area, the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR) hasn’t gotten round to exploiting the shooting, but they are begging for contributions in preparation for their upcoming June 2 “campaign kick-off,” the latest in several such media events. This campaign is to pass a so-called “universal background check” law in the form of Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure.

There is no small irony in the fact that the Santa Barbara tragedy was not prevented by precisely the kind of law that WAGR wants instituted in the Evergreen State. Suspected killer Elliot Rodger bought three handguns, all at retail shops. He went through three different “universal background checks” and even California’s waiting period. In addition, he only had ten-round magazines, discussed by this column earlier.

But that didn’t stop the Brady Campaign from today issuing a statement from President Dan Gross, who was in Seattle recently for a fund-raiser held by Washington CeaseFire. In that statement, Gross asserted, “Americans are dying every day because of the corporate gun lobby and the politicians it has in its pocket.

“Real solutions exist that are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans — solutions that would prevent many of the 90 gun deaths that happen in our nation every day,” he continued. “And yet, the corporate gun lobby relentlessly blocks progress toward every commonsense solution. It gives substantial sums of money to buy politicians to ignore the will and well-being of the American people — by opposing expanded background checks and calling research into gun violence ‘unethical’.”

“These politicians do not care who is buying guns — convicted felons, domestic abusers, rapists – just as long as the corporate gun lobby is happily making the biggest possible profit,” the press release added.

Meanwhile, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, insists in her press release that, because two of the six California victims were women, “The fact is, women are the target of far too many shootings in America. The story that desperately needs to be told is that the majority of mass shootings in this country are in fact domestic violence incidents.”

But domestic violence had nothing to do with the deaths of the two female victims. They were shot together on a sidewalk, and clearly from Rodger’s own “manifesto,” he had not had any kind of a relationship with a woman, much less a domestic one. That fact doesn’t stop Watts, however.

And Watts needs to explain how domestic violence is even remotely connected to the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard shooting, or the Aurora “Batman Massacre,” or Tucson, or Seattle’s Jewish Federation and Café Racer incidents, or Sandy Hook, Clackamas Town Square, Trolley Square or Luby’s Cafeteria. What is a common denominator in nearly all of those cases is that the shooters had mental health problems that were known, but not addressed. One psychiatrist wants another California gun law to create a "gun violence restraining order."

Watts contends that Klobuchar’s legislation “would add stalkers to the group of people prohibited from buying guns, which already includes the severely mentally ill and violent criminals. It would prohibit all domestic abusers from buying guns, including dating partners -- not just spouses.”

This legislation has nothing to do with the crime that was committed. This is typical of the gun prohibition movement which tries to capitalize on every gun-related crime by pushing some pet, albeit unconnected, legislation as a solution. At least Watts didn’t claim that all six victims were shot, but her message doesn’t really address the fact that three male victims were fatally stabbed.

“As we saw this weekend,” Watts’ message reads, “and far too many times before, women are too often the target of gun violence. Driven by misogyny and enabled by lax or non-existent gun laws, gunmen like the shooter near Santa Barbara channel their rage into shooting women.”

Watts faces a tough sell on that message, because strict gun laws exist in Santa Barbara, as they do in all of California. And the suspected killer in this case killed twice as many men as he did women.