In the gun rights community, it’s called “dancing in blood,” and yesterday the Initiative 594 campaign donned its ballet slippers, using the tragedy at Fort Hood that Fox News earlier today reported at “sparked a new debate about gun control and the defense budget.”
Gun owners have long expressed disgust at what they call exploitation of a tragedy to push a gun control agenda.
In an e-mail appeal to gin up attendance at a June 2 “campaign kickoff” for the 18-page gun control measure, campaign manager Zach Silk wrote:
"After yet another horrific tragedy in Fort Hood this week, we here at the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility would like to offer our thoughts and prayers for all of those affected by this terrible event.
"But we know all too well that our thoughts and prayers aren't enough -- we have to offer something more. It is times like this that we are reminded that only together can we address gun violence in our communities, here in our state and across the nation.
"We in Washington State are standing together and taking the first step in addressing this problem: We're going to bring I-594, which would apply existing background checks to all firearm sales in Washington, to the ballot in November.
"Take a stand. Join us. Become part of the solution at our June 2nd event…
"In the face of these tragedies, we need to join hands and work together to make our state safer -- and we can't do it without you.
One gun rights activist who received the e-mail wrote to this column noting, “Somebody needs to call Zach and tell him (the gunman) passed a background check.”
True enough; it has been widely reported, including by KYTV, that, “Lopez passed a background check when he bought the handgun at Guns Galore near Killeen, Texas, according to U.S. law enforcement officials. He was found to have no criminal history that would disqualify him from the purchase, and the gun store did what was required, according to law enforcement officials who reviewed the records.”
This follows a pattern that has become all-too familiar to gun rights proponents, where those promoting some gun control scheme use, as examples for their efforts, crimes that would not have been prevented by the stricter laws they propose. As with last Thursday’s Fort Hood shooting, and the one in 2009 committed by Nidal Hasan, background checks were passed. The military is searching for answers.
Likewise, the shooter who committed the Seattle Jewish Federation attack passed a background check. A federation survivor is a central figure in the I-594 campaign.
Shooters responsible for Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, Washington, D.C. Navy Yard, Arapahoe High School and Tucson all passed background checks because they bought their firearms at retail, not at gun shows or in private transactions. The accused Aurora movie theater gunman bought his firearms at retail and passed background checks.
That never seems to matter to those who exploit such tragedies, gun owners contend. Yesterday’s e-mail seems to support that contention.