Eleven days after a 22-year-old California man killed six in a shooting and stabbing spree near the University of California, Santa Barbara, the National Rifle Association responded, placing “the blame” for the tragedy on gun safety efforts.
On May 23 Elliot Rodger, apparently motivated by hatred of women, went on a killing spree in Isla Vista, California, stabbing three victims to death before shooting 11 people; three fatally. Several other people were injured by Rodger's car.
The NRA typically goes silent in the wake of mass shooting incidents, and the Isla Vista killings were no different. As The New York Times noted after the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, “Over the years the N.R.A. has perfected its strategy for responding to mass shootings: Lie low at first, then slow-roll any legislative push for a response.” (Slate's Dave Weigel has noted that when the NRA finally does weigh in, its response is nearly identical to past incidents.)
During a June 3 appearance on the NRA's radio program Cam & Company, NRA top lobbyist Chris Cox addressed the Isla Vista killings, stating, “The blame needs to be placed on the politicians in California who time and time again their answer to these issues are more and more gun control laws.”
Cox also claimed that not enough attention had been paid by the media to the victims who were stabbed to death, adopting a similar argument used in a May 30 NRA commentary video that attacked media for using the word “shooting” when describing murders committed with guns.
From the June 3 edition of Cam & Company:
COX: Unfortunately this is another tragedy that was not prevented by gun control and there's not one more, Cam you and I know it and your viewers and listeners know it, there is not another gun control law that could have been passed that would have prevented this awful situation from happening.
We can't forget that the first three victims were stabbed to death. Now that's not something that the national news media wants to talk about. A number of victims were hit by a car, gun control obviously wouldn't have prevented that behavior either. They have very strict mental health rules with regards to firearm ownership in California. There are things that can and should be done, the National Rifle Association is interested in addressing these underlying problems. We have underlying problems with a lack of school security, a lack of armed security in our schools. We have a problem with a lack of prosecution coming out of [Attorney General] Eric Holder and Barack Obama's administration, and we have a problem, no question, with regards to these gun control laws that leave people defenseless, and we have a problem with a mental health system that's completely bankrupt.
This is -- this is -- you know people are looking to place blame on wherever they can place blame and it's an understandable reaction to such a horrific tragedy. But the blame needs to be placed on the politicians in California who time and time again their answer to these issues are more and more gun control laws. They have passed every gun control law imaginable and it hasn't done a damn thing, and that's a tragedy in and of itself.
Following the May 23 killings, California lawmakers announced proposed legislation to create a “gun violence restraining order” to prevent future tragedies. As the Los Angeles Times explained, “Family members, partners and friends would have the ability to alert law enforcement if they believe someone poses a threat to themselves or others. Law enforcement officers would then be able to petition a judge to grant a restraining order that could prohibit possession or purchase of a gun.”
Cox was on the NRA News program to apologize for an NRA statement that criticized Texas activists who openly carry assault weapons in public as a form of protest, and to clarify that the NRA's official position on carrying guns embraced such endeavors.