Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher -- better known as "Joe the Plumber" -- has penned an open letter saying the recent shooting deaths of young people near the University of California at Santa Barbara shouldn't get in the way of his right to bear arms.
"I am sorry you lost your child. I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through now. But, as harsh as this sounds -- your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights," Wurzelbacher wrote in a letter to "the parents of the victims murdered by Elliot Rodger." The letter was posted Tuesday on the blog BarbWire, and Talking Points Memo previously reported on the comments.
"We still have the right to bear arms and I intend to continue to speak out for that right, and against those who would restrict it."'
Richard Martinez, the father of one of the victims, spoke out Sunday, saying politicians have failed Americans by not enacting stricter gun laws after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. His son, Christopher, was among the six people killed last weekend.
"Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians, and the [National Rifle Association]. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris's right to live? When will this insanity stop?" Martinez said in an interview with CNN.
Wurzelbacher said he empathizes with Martinez, but he disagrees with where Martinez placed the blame.
"There are no critical words for a grieving father. He can say whatever he wants and blame whoever he'd like – it's okay by me. You can't take a step in his shoes – at least I can't," Wurzelbacher said. "But the words and images of Mr. Martinez blaming 'the proliferation of guns,' lobbyists, politicians, etc. will be exploited by gun-grab extremists, as are all tragedies involving gun violence and the mentally ill by the anti-Second Amendment left."
At least 44 shootings have occurred at elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as on college campuses, around the country since the massacre in Newtown, Conn. The gun debate is currently stalled in Washington. Several states have enacted restrictive gun laws.
As BarbWire highlighted in a footnote to the letter, Wurzelbacher appeared in the news during the 2008 presidential campaign, when he met then-presidential candidate Barack Obama and criticized his policy proposals. He went on to support John McCain's campaign. Wurzelbacher later lost a congressional bid as a Republican candidate.
Wurzelbacher wrote Tuesday that he will continue to pray for the families, but he remains committed to defending his Second Amendment rights.
"We still have the right to bear arms and I intend to continue to speak out for that right, and against those who would restrict it – even in the face of this horrible incident by this sad and insane individual," Wurzelbacher wrote.