Influential Gun Control Activist Takes Own Life In Jail

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For several years it was almost impossible to read a news story about gun control without running across a quote by Mark Glaze. The longtime activist joined Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns in 2011 before being promoted to executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety in 2014, and was a regular guest on cable news networks and a favorite source for reporters even after he left the group and started his own consulting firm. Glaze helped to found Guns Down America, and continued to speak out against our Second Amendment rights in recent years, though his high-profile media appearances dwindled.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I wrote about Glaze or discussed one of his attacks on gun ownership, but I was still shocked to see the news over the weekend that the 51-year old had died; apparently at his own hands in a cell inside the Lackawanna County Prison in Pennsylvania. While it never made national news at the time, in early September the local Times-Tribune newspaper reported that Glaze had been arrested after allegedly driving drunk and leaving the scene of an accident with injuries.

Mark Charles Glaze, 1003 P St., NW, Apt. B, also tried to jump into Roaring Brook with his dog after Scranton police officers caught up with him in the city.

Glaze rear-ended the vehicle on I-81 south near mile marker 185.9 in Dunmore around 2 p.m. and drove off, taking the Cedar Avenue exit, state police at Dunmore said.

Officers found Glaze’s car parked on the shoulder with heavy front-end damage. The driver of the truck reported an injury to his left hand.

Scranton police said Glaze tried jumping into Roaring Brook with his dog before he was detained near the Scranton Iron Furnaces.

Glaze, who officers said appeared slow and sluggish, had bloodshot eyes and a hard time balancing, admitted to drinking alcohol while driving and being involved in the crash, and told police he had no legitimate reason for fleeing. Officers found four empty 16-ounce cans of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and one empty 16-ounce can of Twisted Tea in his black Lexus.

According to an obituary in the New York Times, friends and former colleagues say that Glaze had been struggling with depression and substance abuse for several years. That is, understandably perhaps, far from the focus of the coverage by the paper. What is less understandable is why the Times chose to present a false impression of Glaze’s legacy as a gun control activist.

Mr. Glaze was already a veteran political organizer in January 2011 when he joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization that was founded by Michael R. Bloomberg and more than a dozen other mayors. He worked for the organization part time, as a consultant on loan from the Raben Group, a public affairs firm.

Gun violence was at the time one of those issues that Washington insiders compared to the weather: something everyone talked about but no one did anything to change. The National Rifle Association controlled the topic, cajoling even moderate Democrats to oppose any effort to regulate firearms.

A decade later, gun violence is a winning issue for many state and local governments, the N.R.A. is in tatters and Congress is increasingly willing to stand up for gun safety — a drastic shift that many attribute to Mr. Glaze’s tireless organizing and brilliant strategizing.

“Mark unquestionably was one of the architects of the gun safety movement,” John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a phone interview.

I get that the New York Times is going to be sympathetic to Glaze, but that’s no excuse to spin the current state of the gun control lobby. A decade after Glaze began his career as a full-time gun control lobbyist, there are far more states and local governments advancing the Second Amendment rights of citizens than restricting them. The NRA may have taken some severe financial hits and the future of the organization is very much in question with New York Attorney General Letitia James seeking to dissolve the group, but the group is still around and having an impact in the gun debate. As for C Congress, it’s no closer to passing gun control than it was in 2011. I mean, the Senate just rejected installing a gun control lobbyist as head of the ATF despite the fact that Democrats control the chamber, so I don’t know where the Times gets the idea that there’s been a “drastic shift” on the issue on Capitol Hill.

I certainly didn’t agree with Glaze’s anti-gun activism, but my heart still goes out to his family and friends who are mourning his death. I’ve experienced that grief firsthand, and I know the damage left behind when someone chooses to end their own life. To anyone who’s wrestling with their own depression or having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone. You don’t have to be alone. Even if you don’t have anyone in your personal circle of family and friends that you can speak with, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

 

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET