Tartaro: Hate speech could spark violence against gun owners
The leader of the nation’s oldest gun rights legal foundation is concerned hate speech in the media will encourage violence against gun owners.
Statements made by broadcasters including CNN’s Piers Morgan and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, as well as comments on social media have contributed to an environment of hate directed against law-abiding Americans who are being demonized for a crime they did not commit, said Joseph P. Tartaro, the president of the Bellevue, Wash.-based Second Amendment Foundation.
Matthews suggested gun owners are, “..people on the far-right (who) never lose their passion…Normal people have other interests like their spouses, their lives, their children, and even their generalized politics isn’t driven by one issue,” he said.
A University of Rhode Island Prof. Erik Loomis tweeted, “Looks like the National Rifle Association has murdered some children,” he said. Loomis also called NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s “head on a stick.”
This comes as President Barack Obama launched an effort that could culminate in an attempt to ban semiautomatic sport-utility rifles and ammunition magazines, and impose other restrictions on gun owners who are not responsible for the actions of an obviously mentally disturbed individual, he said.
“The remarks become obscene after that,” said Alan M. Gottlieb, SAF executive vice president.
“We have received some vulgar e-mails from people that want us to vanish ‘for the sake of a civilized world,” he said.
“This kind of rhetoric does not contribute to any rational discussion,” he said.
“Vitriol like this only promotes hate, but apparently it’s okay to perpetuate bigotry so long as you are an anti-gunner, and a liberal. If anyone is harmed as a result of this hate campaign, we expect them to be prosecuted under the hate crimes laws,” he said.
“If this hate speech leads to hate crimes,” Gottlieb concluded, “people like Piers Morgan and Chris Matthews will be partly responsible.”
Tartaro said he is glad the president is taking steps to address the issue of gun violence.
“Focusing on the instrumentality of firearms alone to the exclusion of possible other causative factors is doomed to failure and would do an injustice to the memories of the Sandy Hook victims and their families,” he said.
“Of course, we are pleased to see that by adopting a broad task force approach in search of solutions to prevent or reduce the kind of violence that was visited upon Newtown, Conn., last week,” he said.
“The president has sought the expertise of several cabinet departments that deal with mental health, educational administration, pharmacology, law enforcement and cultural issues in addition to firearms,” he said.
The task force, led by Vice-President Joseph R. Biden Jr., would be making a mistake by narrowing the focus to firearms and pushing a ban on popular semiautomatic firearms will only fuel the campaign of hate now underway on cable television and in social media.