Man Who Lost Parents In Synagogue Shooting Sues NRA

Marc Simon’s parents were murdered in the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2018, in which eleven people were killed. Simon is now suing the National Rifle Association, claiming that the organization was responsible for radicalizing the man who allegedly committed that atrocity by infecting him with “white supremacist conspiracy theories.”

Simon’s attorneys actually write in the lawsuit filed on Thursday that Robert Bowers, the man accused of committing the attack, was “was not born fearing and hating Jews. The gun lobby taught him to do that.

Charges filed against Bowers in the days after the synagogue shooting allege he told one SWAT officer that he “wanted all Jews to die” and said “(Jews) were committing genocide to his people.”

Simon’s lawsuit alleges that those ideas were not born out Bowers’s own mind, but rather put there by the gun lobby and its “conspiracy theories.”

“One such theory holds that Jews are funding an invasion of the United States by thousands of people of color form third-world countries with the goal of importing a non-white population,” the lawsuit claims. “And another holds that Jews have rigged the democratic processes and captured government into a scheme to confiscate firearms, impose socialism and subjugate the American people.”

The lawsuit cites a number of statements attributed to the NRA and its leader, Wayne LaPierre, including comments made at the February 2018 meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference referencing “so-called new European socialists.”

“It is all backed in this country by the social engineering and the billions of people like George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and more,” the lawsuit quotes LaPierre as saying in the same remarks.

Soros, Bloomberg and Steyer are Jewish.

I haven’t been able to get ahold of a copy of the actual lawsuit, but if this is the strongest bit of “evidence” in Simon’s lawsuit, I don’t see this case going anywhere. Yes, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, and Tom Steyer are Jewish. They’re also among the largest donors to left-leaning, progressive, and socialist causes and candidates in the country. Michael Bloomberg, for example, has been the chief funder of the gun control movement for nearly a decade now. He spent a billion dollars of his own money on his abortive presidential campaign, and hundreds of millions more backing pro-gun control candidates. It would be odd if LaPierre didn’t mention Michael Bloomberg.

I generally don’t quiz anyone on their ethnic or religious backgrounds, but I’m friends with several Jewish NRA members, including NRA board members. NRA past president Sandy Froman is Jewish, as is the longtime former producer of Cam & Co., and I can tell you that when I was hosting that program on NRA News and then NRATV, I never once had any negative reaction from an NRA member or employee when I would talk with, say, Yehuda “The Pew Pew Jew” Remer. And the idea that the NRA would be putting out a conspiracy theory like this is simply absurd:

According to Mr. Simon’s complaint, signed by attorney Robert A. Bracken of Pittsburgh-based Bracken Lamberton LLC, gun lobbyists like the NRA radicalized people with “mendacious white supremacist conspiracy theories.”

“One such theory holds that Jews are funding an invasion of the United States by thousands of people of color from third-world countries with the goal of importing a non-white population,” the complaint reads.

I’ll state for the record that I’ve never heard that theory from anyone associated with the NRA. At least in my circles, the persecution and genocide of the Jews by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s is seen as an example of why the individual right to keep and bear arms is so important, and Second Amendment scholar Stephen Halbrook has brought to light many examples of the Jewish armed resistance to the Nazis that are viewed as inspirational by many gun owners.

I truly don’t believe that Robert Bowers learned his hate from the NRA or the community of tens of millions of Americans who support the right of all the People to keep and bear arms in self-defense. There’s no room in our heart for hate, because we ally ourselves with all kinds of people who are different than us in a variety of different ways, yet all united in one cause; the individual rights recognized and protected by the Second Amendment.

Because of the NRA, I’m friends with people I would never even come in contact with otherwise. I have friends like Erin Palette in the Pink Pistols even though I’m a straight cisgender guy. I have friends like firearms instructor Rick Ector, even though he’s a black man in Detroit and I’m a white man in rural Virginia. I spent almost 16 years hosting Cam & Co on NRA News, and it broadened my perspective and allowed me to not just tolerate but to appreciate and befriend people who were different than me, because despite whatever differences we had there were still commonalities to be found. It’s a lesson I apply to life in general now, not just to my relationships within the Second Amendment community.

So where might Bowers hate have come from, if it wasn’t the Second Amendment community or the NRA? This piece by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Rich Lord provides us with some clues.

At some point in the 1990s, Mr. Bowers started listening to the Quinn in the Morning show, also known as The Warroom.

“He listened to Jim Quinn all the time,” said Mr. Kelly. “Oh, my God, that was his God!”

Internet domain records show that Mr. Bowers created a website, onedingo.com, and intended to archive Mr. Quinn’s broadcasts there. In 2000, according to records of Mr. Quinn’s site warroom.com, the show’s “sound guy” was “Rob,” with the email address [email protected] Archived versions of warroom.com credit “Rob Bowers” with the “encoding” work.

Mr. Quinn has not responded to interview requests from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but told The Washington Post that he does not recall meeting Mr. Bowers, who was a volunteer for the company that ran warroom.com. Mr. Quinn’s co-host, Rose Tennent, repeatedly declined requests to talk about Mr. Bowers.

The company that ran warroom.com around 2000, according to online archives, was owned by Cynthia Randazzo, of Edgewood. She declined to be interviewed about Mr. Bowers, but texted, “He was never on the payroll and I never met him in person!”

The role as Mr. Quinn’s archivist “was kind of a big deal” to Mr. Bowers, said Mr. Walters.

Mr. Bowers’ hostility to the United Nations was consistent with Mr. Quinn’s ideology. The site warroom.com today includes “Quinn’s Laws,” including this one: “13. The United Nations is an expensive farce that allows tyrants to park illegally and pretend that they are legitimate World Statesmen. They are not, they are thugs in $4000.00 suits who see America as the biggest threat to the world (eg: threat to THEIR utopian plans to control everything).”

It sounds like Bowers had far more exposure to and interest in Quinn than Wayne LaPierre or the NRA. But Quinn wasn’t the only guy that Bowers was listening to. By the mid-2000s Bowers was online, and not just listening to conspiracy theory-driven talk radio programs.

Among Mr. Bowers’ apparent influences was an extremist who goes by the pseudonym Jack Corbin, or, sometimes, Pale Horse. That’s the person whose posts Mr. Bowers shared most often, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute, a group of scientists and engineers who use computing tools to expose hate speech online, and who have, since Oct. 27, been poring over the Baldwin man’s activity.

The Jack Corbin posts are many — two Twitter account associated with that name, created last month, were approaching a total of 3,000 posts last week — and often target perceived anti-fascist, or left-leaning, figures.

For instance, the Jack Corbin persona targeted students at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill who were demanding the removal of a Confederate monument known as “Silent Sam,” according to Lindsay Ayling, a graduate student who was involved in protests related to the statue.

Ms. Ayling said that since August, Jack Corbin has posted comments on her looks, ethnicity and background, targeted her friends with “really explicit and misogynist” posts, and chillingly made “a lot of references to the make and model of the car that James Fields drove through the crowd at the Charlottesville rally.” Mr. Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, faces 30 federal counts and state murder charges, accused of driving a 2010 Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counterprotesters and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer after the 2017 Unite the Right Rally.

There’s not one mention of the NRA, the Second Amendment community, or Wayne LaPierre in Ford’s lengthy investigative piece on the radicalization of Robert Bowers. Not one.

My heart goes out to Marc Simon and everyone who had someone they love stolen from them by the act of an evil man. I hope that they find a full measure of justice for the heinous crimes that were committed against their loved ones. But the argument that the NRA turned Robert Bowers into an anti-Semitic madman doesn’t appear to have any real evidence behind it, and given that my own experience with the organization helped me to love and not hate, I firmly believe that no justice will be found in this case unless it’s dismissed.

May 16, 2021 11:30 AM ET
May 16, 2021 8:30 AM ET