RFK Jr. scrubs tweet claiming NRA is ‘as responsible for’ the Parkland school shooting ‘as if they pulled the trigger’
He also called the NRA a "terror group" and shared an op-ed calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment
In 2018, one day after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (aka “MSD”) in Parkland, Florida, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. took to Twitter to accuse the National Rifle Association (NRA) of mass murder.
“Let’s be honest,” he wrote. “The NRA is as responsible for the MSD child murders as if they pulled the trigger. NRA has turned 2d Amendment into a suicide pact for our children. When do we deal with NRA?”
That tweet remained published on Twitter for over five years, but appears to have been deleted on or around May 3, 2023, about two weeks after he announced his presidential run.
It was still published as of April 29, 2023, as documented by the Wayback Machine. It appears to have still been published as of the morning of May 3 as well, when numerous people who had found the tweet were commenting that it was a red flag and/or deal-breaker for them:
The next direct reference (link) to the tweet appears to have been in the early morning on May 4, when another user said in part: “NEVER Kennedy. His infamous anti-gun tweet has been deleted.”
After that, no one quote-tweeted or linked to the tweet at all in the subsequent two weeks, per the same search, suggesting that it had indeed been deleted.
Visiting the original link now yields a message saying, “Hmmm..this page doesn’t exist.”
More RFK Jr. Tweets
The same day that Kennedy said that the NRA was “as responsible for” the Parkland murders “as if they pulled the trigger,” he also tweeted out a USA Today article that held up Australia’s “sweeping gun control measures” and gun buy-back programs as a potential model for the US. (See here for a rebuttal by John Lott.)
Two days later (i.e., three days after Parkland), Kennedy tweeted that the NRA is a “terror group”:
He followed that up later the same evening with a link to a “Pledge to Support an Assault Weapons Ban”:
“Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Akron Councilwoman Tara L. Samples are organizing Ohio in a movement to #BanAssaultWeapons,“ the pledge read.
Kucinich is now RFK Jr’s campaign manager:
In the op-ed, Stevens said that lawmakers should “enact legislation prohibiting civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons” (which would presumably include handguns in addition to rifles, since he just says “weapons”).
But even that wouldn’t go far enough, according to Stevens:
“Demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform,” he continued. “They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.”
Signing An “Assault Weapons” Ban
Kennedy is in the process of rebranding himself on a number of issues, including gun control. In a recent town hall, he claimed that he isn’t “gonna take peoples guns away.”
However, when pressed about the fact that most Democrats support an “assault weapons ban” a few minutes later, he said if “we can get” a bipartisan “consensus” on such a bill, he would sign it.
He made the same two assertions during a Reason interview a few weeks ago:
Q: “Would you ban so-called assault weapons?”— Decensored News (@decensorednews) July 23, 2023
KENNEDY: “Well, I'm not gonna take away anybody's guns. But… if there was a consensus where Republicans & Democrats voted a majority to do that, I would sign the bill.”
Clip from a few weeks ago 🔊 pic.twitter.com/1B81Nxo4on
“Is this statement not contradictory?” asked Decensored News on Twitter last week, after sharing the Reason clip. “Does someone want to ‘steel man’ RFK Jr. here & explain why it’s not? (Seriously). Would a ‘ban’ not outlaw the possession of such guns (in addition to the sale)? If so, how would it be enforced? Has anyone asked him?”
As noted by Will Fite (@WillFiteForYou) and others, Kennedy also told voters at another recent town hall in New Hampshire: “I believe in gun control, myself.”— Decensored News (@decensorednews) August 1, 2023
Source w/ full response: https://t.co/mLSaE161zH
This was on 6/20/2023. pic.twitter.com/SHyyAPg1aM
Fite (mentioned above) offered a written analysis on his blog, concluding in part:
In a way RFK Jr. is attempting to coalition build the same way Richard Nixon did the Right in 1968, and Kennedy sees gun owners as an important part of that coalition. However thanks to his remarks on an Assault Weapons Ban the gun owners are out on Kennedy. And even for being a “when pigs fly” type answer on the ban, RFK Jr. has realized he is in a modern Democratic primary race and that he can’t ignore the fact 77% of Democratic voters support an Assault Weapons Ban.
Toeing the line to get the gun vote is a tall order in a Democratic Party primary and at this point any way to bring those voters back, whether it be back tracking on his previous statements on a ban or being against a policy like Red Flag Gun Confiscation, is just going to alienate the hardline Democrat voters Kennedy needs to convince to ditch Biden and vote for him.
The only thing Robert F. Kennedy Jr. can truly do now on guns is ignore the issue. He’s been labeled a gun grabber and those votes aren’t coming back.
If one uses social media as a barometer, his prediction that those votes are not coming back seems like it’s probably accurate:
These comments from @ReedCoverdale, @NuanceBro, @ScottHorton, @LibertyLockPod, @SlowNewsDayShow, & @hippojuicefilm capture (what appears to be) the prevailing sentiment among gun rights advocates about RFK Jr.'s stance on the issue, and, increasingly, his candidacy in general. pic.twitter.com/Pw5BXRcPHt— Decensored News (@decensorednews) August 1, 2023