Gun control advocates and media figures are making several accusations against the gun lobby and guns rights reporters in the aftermath of Wednesday’s horrific high school shooting in Florida, but a prominent gun rights group says the claims are baseless and says media attention given to this killer is already inspiring the next one.
On Wednesday, 17 people were killed and another 14 injured at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The 19-year-old shooter, who was once expelled from the school, is in police custody.
As has become custom in the wake of such horrific tragedies, the political blame game began just minutes after the news first broke of the shooting, with many gun control advocates accusing their opponents of bearing some of the blame.
Gun Owners of America Legislative Director Michael Hammond says that is nothing new.
“That is certainly the theme of the day, that if you take a particular position on a policy that you’re implicated or complicit,” said Hammond. “The left now thinks it has a terminology that will hurt us so it’s sticking to it.”
Hammond is also playing offense, asserting that the non-stop media attention to massacres like the one in Parkland only makes the problem worse.
“I fear they’re never going to stop until the names and pictures of these horrible individuals stop being plastered on TV 24 hours a day,” said Hammond.
“There are probably millions and millions of young men currently sitting in their parents’ basement, in front of their computer screen, without a date for Valentine’s Day, who potentially could snap.
“What’s going to cause them to snap in some cases is that they have a wall of clippings of the attention given to previous shooters,” said Hammond, who says the killer at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, had such a wall before he murdered small children and school officials in 2012.
A common argument from gun control advocates in recent days is such mass shootings “only happen here.” Hammond says that’s not true, pointing to major mass shootings in Norway and France in recent years.
“There are plenty of countries that have horrific incidents which are comparable. One of the things those countries don’t have is a left-wing cable medium which glorifies these killers and lionizes them,” he says.
Media figures and Democratic politicians are also accusing the GOP-led Congress and President Trump of making it easier for mentally ill people to buy guns, as the result of a bill signed into law last year.
Hammond says that is also way off base.
“What [the Obama-era rule] did was it trolled Social Security disability. It said, ‘We’ll look at everyone who has a guardian receiving their check for whatever reason. We’ll look at everyone with PTSD, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, and we’ll send their names to West Virginia and take away their guns,” said Hammond.
“Congress, not surprisingly, found this objectionable and found it fundamentally lacking in due process and overturned it by a fairly substantial margin. The fact is 257,000 law-abiding veterans have had their guns taken away from them because they had PTSD,” said Hammond.
Hammond says he finds it appalling that these people were trusted with automatic weapons to defend the nation in uniform but aren’t trusted with semi-automatic weapons to protect their family and property.
The Florida shooting is the latest mass shooting to have a killer using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Hammond says it’s the most popular rifle in America but gun control advocates want to see it banned.
Hammond says the AR-15 may look more menacing than other guns but works exactly the same as semi-automatic weapons made by Glock and Baretta. He says it’s used in mass killings because of the copycat effect and believes the effort to ban it are purely political.
“It’s exploiting a tragedy for the purpose of making a political point. The day after they outlaw the AR-15, they’ll be back for national gun registration, or national gun confiscation, or something else.
“Look at New York, there is no jurisdiction that has begun to go down that road that has voluntarily stopped short of complete, across-the-board gun bans and confiscation,” said Hammond.
So what is his solution? He says the best way to prevent such atrocities in the future is to repeal gun-free zones that were implemented more than two decades ago.
“In 1996, Congress banned guns from campuses. Guess what happened within two or three years of that? Columbine happened. Since the efforts of the media to use Columbine to exploit Columbine, for the purpose of achieving gun control, there has just been a non-stop session of copycat killings,” said Hammond.
He says killers almost always attack in a gun-free zone because they are confident there will be no resistance.
“If you want to get your 15 minutes of fame. If you want to go someplace and ensure that your name will be enshrined in the pantheon of MSNBC forever, what you do is you go into that place where you know no one else will have a gun and no one will shoot back. Where is that? A school.
“The Aurora shooter basically went from movie theater to movie theater until he saw a no guns sign,” added Hammond.
Hammond strongly endorses legislation from Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., that would rescind the gun-free zones from the federal level. He also encourages armed personnel to be placed at schools and other soft targets.
“If one of these guys shows up with a gun and he dies before he’s fired the first shot, then he’s going to look foolish and there aren’t going to be copycat shootings of that,” said Hammond.