Before going on a rampage with a Ruger AR-15 assault rifle that killed three, the Mukilteo shooter tweeted out a question: “What’s Ruger gonna think?” We just got an answer of sorts.
“What’s Ruger gonna think?”
That was the omen the accused Mukilteo shooter, Allen Ivanov, posted on Twitter two days before he allegedly shot and killed three former classmates from his Mukilteo high school in late July.
Police believe he was fetishizing the gun he had just bought, and which he scarcely knew how to use: a Ruger brand AR-15 assault-style rifle, which he later told police he saw as “a symbol of power.”
But as it happens, we now have a bit of insight into what Ruger, the Connecticut company that made the gun, actually does think.
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Four days after the mass shooting here of teenagers with one of its guns, apparently by a perpetrator so green he delayed his rampage for two hours while he read the AR-15’s instruction manual, Sturm, Ruger & Co. announced it would be donating $5 million.
Not to gun training or to help victims of gun violence or anything of that sort. But to the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, the NRA’s arm for lobbying against any and all new gun restrictions.
The company made the announcement last week during an earnings conference call in which executives said sales of its guns were up 19 percent, with profits soaring 56 percent compared to last year. The big profits are due in part to a run on guns fueled by an anti-gun political climate, the company said.
The CEO described how the company also plans to leverage this gun-buying splurge to boost the NRA: by donating $2 to the group for every Ruger gun sold. The company’s goal is to sell 500,000 more Ruger guns between now and the November election, which would add another $1 million contribution to the NRA.
“We hope this call to action inspires our customers and all freedom-loving Americans to take action in support of the Second Amendment,” CEO Mike Fifer enthused at the beginning of the news conference.
Later, a reporter on the call asked about all the mass shootings. The reporter mentioned shootings such as at the Orlando nightclub in June, but not the one that had just happened in Mukilteo.
The company doesn’t know if the shootings directly affect its sales, the CEO said: With all the resulting talk about gun control, “It will be hard for any of us to believe that it didn’t have some impact. But it can’t be measured.”
It’s all good, in other words. None of the Ruger executives so much as hinted that the gun violence might be a tragedy. No one offered up even the usual boilerplate about how of course guns should be used responsibly.
Instead, the CEO turned up the temperature. He accused an unnamed presidential candidate — i.e., Hillary Clinton — of “actively campaigning against the lawful commerce in arms,” which he called “unprecedented.” He urged people to counteract that by “purchasing a Ruger firearm” to benefit the NRA.
Now I wouldn’t blame a fertilizer company if someone used its product to make a fertilizer bomb. So I wouldn’t normally be inclined to blame this company because their gun was the tool of the Mukilteo massacre.
But the problem here is that Ruger is not just going about its business of selling guns.
It’s insane that we live in a state where a 19-year-old can’t buy a six-pack but is welcome to buy an assault weapon with no training, licensing or clue how to use it. Yet here’s the gun maker leveraging the public’s legitimate anxiety about mass shootings to a) hype more gun sales and b) raise money for the very purpose of blocking any reasonable efforts at trying to prevent the next clueless, angry 19-year-old with no training or licensing from snapping up an assault rifle.
To choose to push all that four days after their product was used to slaughter teenagers? Speaks for itself.
It does provide an answer, though, to the shooter’s question.
What’s Ruger gonna think? Ruger’s gonna think what gun makers always do: Keep the status quo no matter how high the body count. The rest of society be damned.