Republican Congressional candidate Tony Strickland backed away from his campaign’s ill-timed decision to send hundreds of automated robocalls to families outside of Los Angeles touting his endorsement by the National Rifle Association, just one day after a mass shooting on the University of California at Santa Barbara campus left seven people dead.
Though the campaign told The Huffington Post that the robocalls had been scheduled just prior to the shooting and expressed sympathies to the families, campaign spokesman Evan Handy did not immediately answer questions about whether they were planning on pulling the robocall altogether, which was scheduled to run for at least several more days.
As noted by local news outlet SantaClarita.com, Strickland used to represent Santa Barbara and Isla Vista when he was a state senator, meaning that at least some of the victims were likely also former constituents.
Listen via SantaClarita.com:
Protect our gun rights, vote for Tony Strickland for Congress. Tony Strickland has a history of protecting our 2nd Amendment rights and will do the same in Congress, Tony Strickland was a founding member of the NRA Member Council and former California Rifle and Pistol Association Legislator of the Year.
Tony has been a longtime supporter of the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms and will continue to oppose, and actively fight, any legislation that would take away our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. As the founder of the Freedom Firearms Coalition and with a lifetime ‘A’ rating from the NRA, we can count on Tony Strickland to protect our constitutional rights.
On June 3rd, vote for Tony Strickland for Congress. This call was paid for by Strickland for Congress.
The father of one victim made an emotional statement against the NRA-controlled political climate after the shooting, blaming his son’s death on “craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.”
This is not the first time gun advocates have been heavily criticized for their lack of sensitivity towards victims of gun violence. Last year, pro-gun groups tried to “reclaim” December 14 as ‘Guns Save Lives’ Day over the objections of relatives of the victims in the Sandy Hook shooting, which occurred on December 14, 2012. And another pro-gun group decided to hold a demonstration on the campus of Virginia Tech — home of the deadliest school shooting in U.S history — to advocate for more guns on college campuses. Failed gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinnelli (R-VA) also found himself in hot water when he bragged about his high NRA rating at Virginia Tech.
Strickland is running for the seat currently occupied by the retiring Buck McKeon (R-CA), a longtime conservative congressman who has represented the northwestern outskirts of Los Angeles County for more than 20 years.