At about 2:30 PM, a shooter opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, about 45 minutes north of Miami. Dozens of students were hit, with preliminary reports putting the number of fatalities at 17.
The shooter has been identified as former student Nicolás de Jesus Cruz, who authorities had banned from the school after he was flagged for his infatuation with guns and other suspicious behavior.
The National Rifle Association has remained mostly silent in the wake of the tragic school massacre, as they are apt to do whenever these inexplicably heinous mass shootings occur. It often takes them a day or two to issue a statement or hold a press conference, and inevitably their words blend some feigned sympathy for the victims with assignments of blame to the mental health community, or immigrants, or anyone that distracts attention away from the free flow of firearms their advocacy efforts have ensured.
So far, they appear to be following that formula. Two hours after the tragedy hit the news, and the NRA is maintaining complete radio silence. But they haven’t been completely inactive.
Early this morning, someone who manages the NRA Twitter page retweeted a ‘Valentines Day’ greeting from Kimber Firearms featuring an image of a heart-shaped box of chocolates with two handguns on top of it.
Below the image the caption reads, “Give your significant other something they’ll appreciate this Valentines Day.”
The NRA deleted the tweet soon after reports of the shooting began breaking all over the news and social media, but not before someone grabbed a screen shot.
The fact that they retweeted the image in the first place is its own flavor of distastefulness. That they only realized it was distasteful or worse when images of frightened students running out of a school and reports of multiple fatalities began showing up on their television screens speaks to how out of touch they are, and how damaging the optics are to their cause.
When will they realize that the issue is their problem, not the optics?