Actor Tom Selleck became the poster boy for the National Rifle Association–and the subject of controversial publicity–14 years ago, after two high students at Columbine High School murdered 13 people and injured 21 students. The Columbine massacre occurred a month after Tom Selleck appeared on the NRA ad with a rifle across his shoulder.
While promoting his new movie, “The Love Letter,” Selleck was a guest on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” on May 19, 1999. But the interview became more about his support for the gun lobbying group.
Rosie O’Donnell: But you can’t say that guns don’t bear a responsibility. If the makers of the TEC-9 assault rifle… Why wouldn’t the NRA be against assault rifles? This is a gun that can shoot five bullets in a second. This is the gun that those boys brought into the school. Why the NRA wouldn’t say as a matter of compromise, “we agree, assault weapons are not good”?
Tom Selleck: I’m not…I can’t speak for the NRA.
Rosie O’Donnell: But you’re their spokesperson Tom, so you have to be responsible for what they say.
Tom Selleck: But I’m not a spokesperson. I’m not a spokesperson for the NRA.
Rosie O’Donnell: But if you put your name out and say, “I, Tom Selleck…”
Tom Selleck: Don’t put words in my mouth. I’m not a spokesperson. Remember how calm you said you’d be? Now you’re questioning my humanity.
Rosie O’Donnell: No, not your humanity. I think you’re a very humane man…
Rosie O’Donnell pursued the topic and asked Selleck to define his involvement with the NRA.
Tom Selleck: I came on your show to plug a movie. That’s what’s I’m doing here.
Rosie O’Donnell: And that’s what we did.
Tom Selleck: If you think it’s proper to have a debate about the NRA, I’m trying to be fair with you.
Rosie O’Donnell: As I am trying to…
Tom Selleck: But this is absurd. You’re calling me a spokesman for the NRA.
Rosie O’Donnell: Tom, if you are a celebrity and you’re doing an ad that says, “I am the NRA”, then what should have been…
Tom Selleck: Have you read the ads?
Rosie O’Donnell: I have read the ads.
Tom Selleck: Good.
Rosie O’Donnell: Did YOU read the ads?
Tom Selleck: I said them. I read them when I said them.
In addition to acting as the public spokesman, Tom Selleck is now a member of the Board of Directors of the NRA. And so, “the time has come to do what Rosie O’Donnell refused to do 14 years ago–question Tom Selleck’s humanity,” according to msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell.
In the past 14 years, a shooter killed 32 people and wounded 17 on the campus of Virginia Tech, setting the record for American gun massacres. Then on January 8, 2011, a shooter killed six and wounded 13, including Congressman Gabby Giffords. On July 20, 2012, a man using a hundred-round ammunition drum killed 12 people and wounded 58, setting another record for the highest number of people shot in an American gun massacre. Finally on December 14, 2012, a man killed 20 children and six teachers in a Connecticut elementary school. O’Donnell states that Selleck remained silent after those shootings.
“Tom Selleck–who has played a principled man in TV and in movies–Tom Selleck, the man who for 14 years has given his full support as a spokesman and then as a board member to the industry lobbying group that has done everything it can every day to make sure that American mass murderers are the best equipped mass murderers in the world, that Tom Selleck has not had one word to say about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary–and so yes, it is time to question Tom Selleck’s humanity.”
The NRA has been heavily criticized this past week for releasing a viral web video that mentions the president’s two daughters. O’Donnell challenged Selleck’s continued silence and asked Tom Selleck, father of two, to “condemn what your organization has done this week in dragging two teenage girls into its propaganda campaign. If you do that, America will have the answer we’re all hoping for about your humanity. And if you don’t, then we will know who you really are. We will know that the clowns who wrote the words in that first ad you did for the NRA were absolutely right about you and said everything anyone will ever need to know about you in the last line of that ad. We’ll know that you, Tom Selleck, really are the NRA.”