An article in the National Rifle Association's (NRA) “official journal” attacked survivors of the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech for using the tragedy to advocate for stronger gun laws.
On April 16, 2007, a gunman at Virginia Tech opened fire in a dormitory and several classrooms, fatally shooting 32 people and wounding 17 others. Following the shooting, several survivors and victims' family members began to advocate for gun violence prevention laws, especially for a federal law to close a loophole in the national background check system that allowed the gunman to acquire his weapons.
In a June 4 feature, NRA magazine America's 1st Freedom attacked those advocates and ran an interview with Holly Adams, who lost her daughter in the shooting and doesn't believe that additional regulation of firearms will prevent future tragedies.
America's 1st Freedom writer David Burnett posited that some victims of the shooting were “coached by gun control lobbyists” and had politicized their experiences with the tragedy by using “their victimhood to advocate for gun bans throughout the nation”:
Some Virginia Tech victims and survivors, several no doubt coached by gun control lobbyists, responded to the tragedy by demanding harsher gun laws. (In reality, the perpetrator had passed a background check when purchasing the firearms he used in his crime, even though he had been court-ordered to undergo mental health treatment. The failure was in the reporting of the information, not the gun laws.) Like most, however, Holly preferred to grieve in private rather than politicize her loss. But after five years of watching a vocal minority continuously use their victimhood to advocate for gun bans throughout the nation, Holly released a statement through the Virginia Citizens Defense League that read, in part:
Following the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, members of conservative media frequently and offensively labeled victims of gun violence who supported stronger gun laws as “props” who weren't speaking voluntarily. The NRA's magazine not only did that, it went one step further and accused some survivors of politicizing their own personal tragedies.
At the end of his interview with Adams, Burnett wrote, “The anti-gun movement frequently coaxes victims to tell their story with the promise of translating their pain into action” and criticized what he called gun violence prevention groups' “use of victims as human shields of a sort.”
The NRA's attack on Virginia Tech shooting survivors comes on the heels of its attempts to dismiss the first annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day, which was held June 2. The event -- which was an outgrowth of efforts to honor slain Chicago teenager Hadiya Pendleton -- was termed “pointless” by the NRA. While participants in National Gun Violence Awareness day wore orange to turn the color “into a symbol for the value of human life everywhere,” the NRA encouraged its supporters to “splurge on a new gun.”
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