Since I blogged in December 2012 about the horrific shootings of 20 young children and six women in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been many more mass shootings in the U.S., the latest last week at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, where nine people were cut down by a gunman. As a PR guy, I wondered back then how the National Rifle Association (NRA) would react to the horrific shootings. The NRA, which has successfully beaten down efforts to regulate the sale of guns by supporting pro-gun rights candidates, remained silent for a couple of days after Newtown and later accused politicians and others of “politicizing” the tragedy.
Sadly, history has repeated itself. Search “Umpqua” on the NRA web site today and there’s not a single mention of the shootings. However, Jack Levi, the NRA’s assistant deputy press relations chief, spoke out on Friday. “The NRA strongly advises against Americans discussing gun control at this time,” said Levi, suggesting that “letting emotions take over a highly emotional event” will only lead to “the further eroding of our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.” He accused the Obama administration and the “liberal media” of having “created a sense of urgency” when it’s “not necessary.”
But what Levi said next was truly alarming. “It’s just too premature to look at 45 separate school shootings as an indication of a problem that needs solving.” And he added in his estimation, “a minimum of 30 or 40 more” school shootings would be where he’d set the threshold and even then, “you really might be overreacting.”
Thirty or 40 more, Mr. Levi? Are we and the media ever “overreacting” to these heinous mass murders?
Yet again, the gun control battle lines are drawn and, I suspect, with little end result. On the day of the Umpqua shootings, President Obama sadly stated that such events and the subsequent reaction “have become routine,” adding, “This is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic.” True to form, several GOP presidential candidates and pro-gun groups have rejected the president’s “politicization” of the issue.