A leading gun control group in Massachusetts is launching a graphic campaign to urge President Trump and members of Congress to “wipe the blood off your hands” by mandating background checks for all firearm sales and renewing the federal assault weapons ban.
Stop Handgun Violence on Friday mailed fliers, fashioned as invitations, with photos of mass shooting victims to the White House and nearly 300 members of Congress who “vote with the NRA every time,” said the organization’s co-founder, John Rosenthal, in a phone interview late last week.
He said his group will also tweet the invitation to each recipient.
The photos are stark and appear beneath a heading that says in block letters, “YOU ARE INVITED ... TO WIPE THE BLOOD OFF YOUR HANDS AND END MASS SHOOTINGS.”
Directly under the text is a photo of bodies strewn across a concert area near terrified survivors in the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre that killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 in October.
Then there’s another message.
“RSVP BEFORE ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING,” the invitation says, followed by two options that recipients can check off, as if they were indicating whether they plan to attend an event.
One option says, “I WILL VOTE IN FAVOR OF BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR ALL GUN SALES AND RENEW THE FEDERAL BAN ON MILITARY STYLE ASSAULT WEAPONS.”
The second one says, “I WILL CONTINUE TO PUT GUN LOBBY BLOOD MONEY ABOVE AMERICAN LIVES.”
The invitation also includes a close-up photo of two people who appear to be dead in Las Vegas, with blood covering one victim’s legs.
View: Flier issued by Stop Handgun Violence
“WHEN YOU RSVP IMAGINE THESE ARE YOUR KIDS,” the invite says.
The Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, unleashed the gunfire from a hotel room and had two “bump-stocks” that could have converted semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic ones, officials have said. He had 23 guns in the room.
Rosenthal said he felt compelled to use the gruesome images of the devastation unleashed by Paddock in an effort to shake Congress out of its complacency.
“The photographs are certainly shocking, but nothing close to the reality of the death and mayhem and pain caused by the real events,” he said. “I think they need to be reminded of the reality, and if I could, I would have included the photographs of the 20 first-graders massacred at Sandy Hook [Elementary School] whose parents tell me they had to be identified by their clothing.”
Rosenthal said that “if Congress won’t choose public health and safety over gun industry campaign blood money, I want them to be reminded of the choice they make every day.”
Attempts to reach the NRA and the White House for comment were unsuccessful.
The offices of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, two of the lawmakers who were sent the invitation, also couldn’t be reached for comment.
In a follow-up statement on Friday, Rosenthal elaborated on his group’s rationale for sending the invitations.
“Congress took zero action when 20 first graders and six teachers died at Sandy Hook, 32 died at Virginia Tech, 70 were shot at Aurora, 50 died and 57 injured at Orlando, and — most recently — 58 died and over 500 wounded in Las Vegas,” Rosenthal said. “Congress and the president clearly do have blood on their hands for allowing guns to be sold in 33 states without criminal background checks and for not renewing the federal ban on military style weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines — the weapon of choice for every large mass shooting.”
He said the horrific photos aren’t the only things that should shock the public.
“What’s also shocking is that people in a position to do something about these gruesome, heart-wrenching, and preventable killings continue to prioritize gun lobby blood money campaign contributions over human lives, regardless of how many tragedies occur,” Rosenthal said. “We are hoping to shock members of Congress and President Trump to their senses and mobilize the majority of Americans who support common-sense gun policies, to hold them accountable before another large and inevitable mass shooting occurs.”Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.