A Minnesota radio host had a message for the families of the Newtown shooting victims during a segment on his show about gun rights: "Go to hell."
When the topic turned to how the family members of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have become outspoken gun control advocates, bringing their efforts to Capitol Hill and meeting with lawmakers before Wednesday's tense vote on the gun bill, radio host Bob Davis said on his morning news talk show last Friday that the Newtown families should just deal with their tragedy instead of infringing on his right to bear arms.
Tom Emmer, co-host of the show ("Davis & Emmer" on Twin Cities News Talk AM 1130), attempted to interject during Davis's rant and said that the families were being used as political pawns to advance a liberal anti-gun agenda. "It's probably one of the worst, ah, political stunts you could do is to use the victims of the tragedy," Emmer said. He reminded Davis that the families were "in a bad place," to which Davis replied, "I don't care."
"I have something I want to say to the victims of Newtown, or any other shooting," said Davis. "I don't care if it's in Minneapolis or anywhere else. Just because a bad thing happened to you doesn’t mean that you get to put a king in charge of my life."
On Monday, Davis issued a statement masked as an apology, explaining to viewers that he had the right to speak his mind and that when he is "passionate about something it comes out on the air" and added that "it's real and it will always be that way."
"It's important to look at the broad ramifications that this legislation might have on liberty and security and refrain from pushing it through by parading around victims or overestimating their credibility in policy preferences just because they're victims. Victims should not be exploited, it does not help them grieve, it does not help us grieve, and it does not advance the cause of liberty."
Bob Davis was not the only person to criticize the Newtown victims high profile in the gun debate. Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe said on the floor last week that the families of the victims had nothing to do with the gun control debate. Inhofe said, "I think it's so unfair of the administration to hurt these families, to make them think this has something to do with them when, in fact, it doesn't."
After initially starting out as a support group, eleven family members of the victims traveled to Washington to privately meet with lawmakers, and received support from a centrist Democratic group Third Way, who then connected the families with a lobbying firm. The firm set up 25 meetings on Capitol Hill in a week.
Obama rebutted the charges in his angry Rose Garden speech on Wednesday. "I've heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for this legislation was somehow misplaced," he said. "'A prop,' somebody called them. 'Emotional blackmail,' some outlet said. Are they serious? Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don't have a right to weigh in on this issue? Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate?"
Listen to Davis's tirade (around the 6:20 point in the tape). Here's the transcript:
DAVIS: And here's the other thing that drives me crazy. They trot out the victims. And I have something I want to say to the victims of Newtown, or any other shooting. I don't care if it's here in Minneapolis or anyplace else. Just because a bad thing happened to you doesn't mean that you get to put a king in charge of my life. I'm sorry that you suffered a tragedy, but you know what? Deal with it, and don't force me to lose my liberty, which is a greater tragedy than your loss. I'm sick and tired of seeing these victims trotted out, given rides on Air Force One, hauled into the Senate well, and everyone is just afraid -- they're terrified of these victims.EMMER: Well they're being used -- they're being used...DAVIS: I would stand in front of them and tell them, 'go to hell.'EMMER: It's probably one of the worst, ah, political stunts you could do is to use the victims of the tragedy.DAVIS: And they fall for it every time!EMMER: Well, you know what, they're in a bad place, Bob.DAVIS: I don't care!EMMER: I understand, but you have to understand that these people might not realize until years later that they've actually been pawns of these political charades when it comes to issues like this.DAVIS: But someone has to tell them: Listen, I realize you have a problem. I realize you're a victim. But that doesn't entitle you to take my liberty. Why can't we just say this?