Whilst the world has been mourning those killed in the horrific shootings in Orlando, the Leave.EU campaign has attempted to capitalise on the massacre with what could be their most offensive message to date.
This image, posted on their Twitter feed and with contact details for the campaign, suggests that the “free movement of Kalashnikovs in Europe helps terrorists” and that we need to “Act now before we see an Orlando-style atrocity here before too long.
The tweet was deleted within a few hours – probably because so many of Twitter users expressed outrage at the message:
@LeaveEUOfficial Rather trump-esque with your timing aren't you? Absolutely disgusted that you'd piggyback such an atrocity.
— Joe Leggz (@EddandLeggZ) June 13, 2016
@LeaveEUOfficial Despicable. Don't co-opt other people's grief to try and push your agenda of hate.
— Nigel Whitfield (@nigelwUK) June 13, 2016
— Stephen Wryly (@stephenreilly) June 13, 2016
The tweet also angered those who support the leave campaign:
@LeaveEUOfficial As someone who wants to vote leave I think this is truly despicable! You're a disgrace! US outside EU and it still happened
— Mrs Cupcake (@seoullessdolly) June 13, 2016
Even Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, expressed her disgust:
.@LeaveEUOfficial This is really shameful.
— Nicky Morgan (@NickyMorgan01) June 13, 2016
The Leave.EU message is vile, misleading and the nastiest kind of opportunism possible.
Firstly, it took place in America where the free availability of guns is much criticised and has lead to many deaths in mass shootings. There is no need for a gun to cross any borders, and in 2011 al-Qaeda spokesperson, Adam Gadahn, encouraged people to buy guns:
You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?
Furthermore, Nigel Farage wants to relax gun controls. He described the UK law on handguns which was brought in after the Dunblane massacre as “ludicrous” and claimed the controls were a “kneejerk” reaction.
However, even if the message was accurate, there is a further problem with Leave.EU capitalising on the massacre. This was, as Owen Jones rightly pointed out, a homophobic hate crime.
UKIP have promoted homophobic views for many years. UK councillor, David Silvester argued that gay marriage was leading to flooding, and perhaps most pertinently and disturbingly, a UKIP candidate John Sullivan wrote on Facebook:
I rather often wonder if we shot one “poofter” (GLBT whatevers), whether the next 99 would decide on balance, that they weren’t after-all? We might then conclude that it’s not a matter of genetics, but rather more of education 😉
In fact, whilst there are valid criticisms of how the EU are upholding LGBTQ rights, it still gives a raft of protection from the kind of UKIP idiots who espouse these type of views.
The Leave.EU campaign may have realised their PR nightmare and deleted the tweet, but their feed contains no apology, and this is yet another example of the disgusting fear-mongering which has dominated the Brexit debate from all sides. However, exploiting the deaths of 50 people in such a manipulative and inaccurate manner is a new low even for the Lleave campaign.
Find out what’s really going on:
– Research views for and against Brexit.
– Read about Diem25, which is trying to bring about real democratic change within the EU.
– Full Fact is fact-checking the EU referendum here.
Featured image via Dave Kellam/Wikimedia Commons.