Choosing the Gun Lobby Over Constituents
Dino Rossi has been active in state politics for more than 20 years and has had every opportunity to show Washingtonians that he’s willing to protect our communities from gun violence. But from the school shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007 to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, Dino Rossi has remained steadfast in his loyalty to the gun lobby. Dino Rossi has even refused to sign a pledge written by a coalition of gun safety advocates asking him to stop taking money from the NRA and to commit to life-saving, common-sense gun regulations.
Now that he’s running to represent Washington’s 8th Congressional District, it’s worth taking a closer look at what that means.
Dino Rossi stays silent when tragedy strikes
When national tragedy strikes, voters rightfully expect candidates for Congress to respond to their fears and concerns. The threat of becoming the next victim of gun violence is a preventable problem that haunts our communities every single day; since January 1, 2018, there have been more than 18 mass shootings in the United States.
On February 14, 2018, news broke that a 19-year-old shooter entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL and killed 17 students and teachers. Within hours, Washington state voters turned to lawmakers and those running for office with one question: will you choose to save lives by supporting common-sense gun safety reform or will you stand with the gun lobby?
It took less than 24 hours for every candidate but one to respond and state support for gun-safety reforms.
The only Republican candidate – former state Senator Dino Rossi – took two whole weeks.
In the days that followed the Parkland shooting, concerned community members and fellow candidates for the 8th Congressional District seat called upon Dino Rossi to issue a public statement regarding the tragic loss of life and distancing himself from the gun lobby. Instead of responding and showing leadership, Rossi hid comments from social media users who pointed out that silence on gun violence is unacceptable for a candidate running for congressional office. After two weeks of silence on the Parkland shooting, Rossi finally gave a toothless response to voters’ criticism in an interview with The Issaquah Reporter.
Dino Rossi’s campaign’s choice to hide social media comments and avoid responding to constituent concerns after a national tragedy is disturbing. However, his dodging isn’t at all shocking given that National Rifle Association awarded Dino Rossi an “A” rating during his two gubernatorial bids and US Senate campaign.
How Dino Rossi Earned from a Decade of “A” Ratings from the NRA
The 2010 Senate Race
Dino Rossi further cemented his legacy as the NRA candidate in the 2010 Senate race. In 2010, Rossi challenged Democratic incumbent Senator Patty Murray in his third attempt to win a statewide office.
The race attracted national attention and millions in independent expenditures poured in from out-of-state groups. Noticeably, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, the NRA’s political arm, endorsed Rossi and stated that Rossi was the “gun owners’ and hunters’ choice in this race” for his opposition to the renewal of the Clinton administration’s 1994 assault rifle ban. Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist also praised Dino Rossi for his support of opening national parks and wildlife refuges to hunting, recreational shooting, fishing, and his support for allowing recreational shooting on federally protected lands.
During the election cycle, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund ran ads and spent more than $410,000 in Washington state supporting Rossi’s failed Senate campaign. Rossi also received political contributions from local gun rights groups including Safari Club International PAC, and the Gun Owners of America, Inc. Political Victory Fund.
The Brady Campaign
If you’re wondering whether Dino Rossi will support common-sense gun reform, look no further than to his demonstrated opposition to gun violence prevention during his tenure as a state senator. The National Rifle Association’s “A” ratings and NRA-IVF endorsements are based “on candidate voting records, public statements and responses to NRA-PVF questionnaires.” The last time Dino Rossi ran for public office in 2010, his loyalty to the gun lobby earned their enthusiastic support.
In 2010 the Brady Campaign, one of nation’s most prominent gun safety organizations, released a statement in response to Dino Rossi ‘s pro-gun stances and NRA endorsement. According to their press release, the organization summarized Rossi’s pro-gun position as follows:
“Rossi wants more guns in more places for more people. He even favors weakening the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), our nation’s top law enforcement agency on guns…
Rossi’s pro-gun votes during his tenure as a Washington State Senator bought him an A-rating and the endorsement of the NRA bosses. Rossi opposes restrictions on military-style assault weapons, including AK-47s and Uzis. He also would support legislation to allow the carrying of loaded, concealed handguns in Washington state by people legally barred from possessing guns in Washington, if they are able to carry elsewhere.1”
Politicians who have unabashedly waved their NRA “A” rating as a badge of honor need to answer for their support the gun lobby’s political agenda. As the Trump administration pushes to arm school teachers and refuses to advocate for safer gun laws, our children and communities are urging congressional leaders to have the political courage to side with victims of gun violence against the gun lobby.
There can be no doubt that if elected Dino Rossi will continue the status-quo Congressional Republicans have set up in choosing the National Rifle Association’s money and the gun lobby over the safety of our communities. Voters in the 8th Congressional District deserve a responsive representative who listens and responds to voters from both sides of the aisle – not someone with Dino Rossi’s track record on the issue of gun safety.
We’re looking forward to supporting a progressive candidate who listens to every voter and genuinely cares about gun violence prevention.
Morgan Steele, Reclaim the Eighth Campaign Manager
1. “The Brady Campaign vs. Rossi: Who’s got the gun politics right?” by Patrick O’Callahan The Inside Opinion Blog The News Tribune, September 29, 2010