Within hours of the news about the El Paso terrorist attack breaking, the Montana Shooting Sports Association’s Project Coordinator and former legislative coordinator Elisa Delaurenti took to Facebook to post actual footage of people killed in El Paso that she captioned with a claim that the shooter was someone opposed to President Trump.
I’m not going to post the video which shows people screaming for mercy and what appears to be a person who has been shot lying on the ground with a pool of blood around his head.
The video was posted by a gunsmith in Montana on a web page that immediately started trafficking in conspiracy theories and claims that rather than pursuing sensible gun legislation, everyone should literally “carry a tourniquet” and a gun everywhere they go.
Delaurenti has been part of the Montana Shooting Sports Association since at least 2015, when she was slandering John and Steve Fitzpatrick at the Legislature when the MSSA wanted to take away the ability of employers to restrict guns at their workplaces. In addition to her work as project coordinator and legislative director, she manages the group’s Facebook presence and has led membership drives.
In short, other than Gary Marbut, the President of the MSSA, she is its most visible and engaged employee, and she spent the hours after a mass killing spreading lies and posting a horrific video of a mass killing to score political points.
The Montana Shooting Sports Association is a major player in Republican politics in Montana. Its Board of Directors includes current and former officeholders, including PSC member Randy Pinocci. It writes legislation for Republican legislators to present, and the organization is treated as providing important commentary on gun issues both by members of the Legislature and the media.
Republican candidates actively seek and promote the endorsement of this organization, giving it legitimacy and influence.
When the evidence is increasingly clear that young men in this country are being radicalized by this kind of online content and organizations like the Montana Shooting Sports Association spends every legislative session opposing even the most sensible bills to stop some of the violence, they should be held accountable.
In the current climate, one in which Republicans respond to mass killings with attacks on political opponents, it’s hard to believe they will, though.
Update: She certainly hasn’t slowed down. Since her post last night, she has added a handful of posts including a conspiracy theory that the shooting could be a hoax because the El Paso shooter bears a resemblance to the Gilroy gunman and a QAnon post claiming that his political affiliation changed online after the attack.