Gun control group's mailer misses the mark in Michigan campaign

Gun control group's mailer misses the mark in Michigan campaign
(AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter)

Several residents of Oxford, Michigan are calling out the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety for what they call a “disrespectful” campaign mailer targeting Republican Secretary of State candidate Kristina Karamo. The mailer in question features an image of a young man with a revolver in his hand headed towards the entrance of Oxford High School; the same school where a 15-year old murdered four students and injured seven others last November.

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The flyer claims that, if elected, Karano would “allow dangerous people to carry guns everywhere”; a bizarre assertion given that a) Secretary of State’s office in Michigan has nothing to do with enforcing or revising the state’s concealed carry laws and b) I’m not aware of any statement by Karano that 15-year olds have the right to bring a concealed handgun into a school.

The bizarre mudslinging isn’t going over well in Oxford, where many residents say the ad is a “disgusting” and misleading ploy.

Oxford residents who have seen the ad are not happy that their grief and trauma are being dragged into politics.

“I feel this ad missed the mark in a few ways. First, the very community that is most affected, Oxford, will see this as a way to use our tragedy in a way many feel is disrespectful,” said Oxford resident Andrea Jones. “Second, it fuels their opposition by igniting negative feelings towards their organization, thus working against them and giving Karamo more support.”

Former Oxford school board president Tom Donnelly was more direct in his opinion on the ad.

“That ploy is disgusting,” he said.

In fact, the pushback has become so intense that the current Secretary of State, Democrat Jocelyn Bensen, had to release a statement of her own. Unfortunately for Bensen, she decided to get cute with her statement, which I don’t think is going to help her much with those Oxford residents who were hoping for a forceful condemnation of the attempt by Everytown to exploit the horrific shooting at Oxford High.

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This mailer was handled by a third party without our involvement or approval,” said Liz Boyd, spokesperson for the Benson campaign. “Despite the specifics of the mailer, we agree that Kristina Karamo would be dangerous for Michigan given she is an election denier whose motivation for seeking statewide office is based on her opposition to abortion under any circumstances.”

Kelsey Cooke, Oxford village president, was also not happy with the ad.

“The political ad depicting what appears to be Oxford High School and a person carrying a gun is beyond distasteful, incredibly disrespectful, and I believe will be triggering to most anyone within our Oxford community regardless of political affiliation,” she said.

The statewide races in Michigan look to be incredibly close, with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer up by a hair over 4 points in the RealClearPolitics polling average. I haven’t seen any recent polling that touches specifically on the SoS race, but it’s fair to assume if Whitmer’s concerned about her re-election chances Bensen is as well. Everytown’s ad may very well end up backfiring on the anti-gun group; turning off some undecideds and independents who end up either casting a vote for Karano or even leaving that portion of the ballot blank.

In a tight race Bensen can’t afford “help” like this from allies like Everytown. The Secretary of State election isn’t driven by gun control or even an outside campaign ad, but when every vote is critical the last thing the Democrat wants is to turn off middle-of-the-road voters by having her campaign backers declare that her opponent supports arming school shooters. If Democrats end up underperforming in and around the Oxford area tomorrow, you can thank Everytown, at least in part, for their shameless attempt to exploit a community’s grief and healing in the name of purely partisan politics.

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