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MILLER: Exploiting gun tragedies

Bloomberg uses tax dollars to push for gun control in other states

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Gun-control advocates have no shame. Before the bodies are buried or families have grieved, political opportunists exploit the tragic murder of innocent people to advance their cases. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg uses his taxpayer-funded staff to jump all over a shooting anywhere in the country as a hook to call for more restrictions on Second Amendment rights.

The day before seven people were murdered at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee on Aug. 5, Mr. Bloomberg's organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), started running a TV ad called "Tucson Survivors Demand a Plan," which demands President Obama and Mitt Romney offer plans to stop firearm killings. The spot was timed to take advantage of renewed attention on the Jan. 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as her shooter, Jared Loughner, was to plead guilty on Tuesday.

One day after the Wisconsin shooting, Mr. Bloomberg went to a Sikh community center in Queens to call for more gun-control laws. "Just two weeks after tragedy in Aurora, we've seen another mass shooting," the Big Apple's chief executive stated. "And still the two presidential candidates have not given the American public a plan to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people."

Since it is already against the law for felons or the mentally ill to get guns, Mr. Bloomberg believes outlawing certain kinds of scary-looking guns -- which the left calls "assault weapons" -- will somehow stop criminals from committing murder. Hizzoner also said, "guns, I think, are the reason why we have high crime." He left out the contradictory fact that higher rates of gun ownership are proven to reduce crime.

Media Trackers Ohio recently uncovered emails between Mr. Bloomberg's mayoral staff and gun-control organizations seemingly trying to exploit the Feb. 27 deaths of three high-school students at a school in Chardon, Ohio. One hour after that shooting, Mark Glaze, director of MAIG, emailed a CNN story about it to official government emails of three Bloomberg staffers and other anti-gun activists. Minutes later, one of the mayoral aides, William Swenson, updated the group with a note "four injured."

An hour later, Lance Orchid, national organizing director of Gun Violence Prevention, emailed, "Perhaps this is the perfect time to push out the new micro-site petition around guns on campus." Neither Mr. Orchid nor Mr. Glaze responded to requests for comment.

That afternoon, Janey Rountree, firearms-policy coordinator in the New York City mayor's office, asked the group to find out how shooter T.J. Lane got his gun and asked, "Are reporters working on this or planning to push the question?" She later wrote, "It may still make sense to talk about guns on college campus in the wake of this shooting." A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg refused to comment on the emails.

Mr. Bloomberg's aide Chris Kocher sent the group a note about "membership outreach" that said the group ProgressOhio had created a website for condolence notes from which "email acquisitions will be shared" with MAIG and a "small subset of these names" will be provided to a group called Ohio Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Brian Rothenberg of ProgressOhio complained to The Washington Times, "It's outrageous to question our sincerity for the condolence page."

Unlike gun-control groups, the National Rifle Association's policy is not to make any public comments until after the funerals and memorials. "The gun-control types are so adept at exploiting tragedies that they make ambulance chasers look like Sunday drivers," one NRA official previously lamented about the speed at which the other side snaps into activist mode. There is a time and place for public-policy debates, but gun grabbers should learn to have respect for victims.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

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