New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has created quite a name for himself in the gun rights crowd. His group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has campaigned for stricter gun control under the guise of keeping firearms out of criminals’ hands, drawing criticism from gun owners across the country.
Now, however, a major misstep has cost the group some of its credibility—or whatever credibility was left, anyway.
During a “No More Names” bus tour event June 18 in Concord, N.H., the group read the names of people killed by gunfire since the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. One of those names, however, had the crowd a little miffed.
According to a news release from the NSSF, among the names of those killed was Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers suspected of coordinating and carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings. Tsarnaev was shot by police—and run over by his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—while fleeing from authorities four days after the bombing.
Understandably, more than a few people were upset; once the name was read, several protestors yelled out, “He’s a terrorist,” according to the (Concord, N.H.) Union Leader.
However, Tsarnaev’s wasn’t the only questionable inclusion in the event. According to the Washington Examiner, one in 12 names on the list is that of a crime suspect.
Apparently, this group just took a list from Slate.com titled “How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown?”—which originally presented the names in a factually based tone without using words like “victim”—and repackaged it as typical pathos-driven, anti-gun rhetoric.
“He was absolutely not a victim, his name should have been deleted before the list was provided to a family member for reading and his name should never have been read,” the group said in a statement to ABC News. “It was a mistake, it should not have happened and we sincerely apologize.” MAIG has also pledged to “scrub” the entire list and represent it without the names of criminals or terrorists.
However, the damage has already been done. In one single act of carelessness, MAIG has outed itself as a group that cares more for its political agenda than the actual facts of the situation—or the group was just too lazy to research every single data point. Whatever the case may be, one thing is certain: Bloomberg and his pals can’t be bothered to check the facts before presenting their case, even if it means listing a terrorist as a victim.
Now, MAIG’s claims are being questioned more than ever before, and politicians who support the group are now under the microscope; Dover, N.H., Mayor Dean Trefethen, for example, is being pressured to resign in the wake of this error, according to the Union Leader.
Standing for distortion and mistruths, it seems, can still cost a politician a job these days.
Bloomberg and MAIG can scrub their list and continue on their bus tour, but they’ll never be able to wipe away the stain this incident will surely leave on MAIG’s reputation.