By Miriam Raftery
April 30, 2018 (La Mesa) – Remarks made by La Mesa School Board president and gun shop owner David Chong in a video on his Facebook page are drawing criticism from some parents and teachers, bringing gun issues to the November reelection campaign.
In the video, made to endorse Mayor Bill Wells’ Congressional race, Chong says, “Hello, my fellow shooters and patriots. David Chong here, owner of AO Sword Firearms in El Cajon.“ He adds, “We all know what it’s like to be gun owners in California. The official sport of Sacramento is racing to outlaw assault banana clips and telescoping bump shrouds.”
Chong adds in his videos, “We have half of our lawmakers taking firearms policy advice from kids who were eating Tide Pods just last week,” a reference to a dangerous Internet challenge in which some youths ate laundry soap pods and posted videos. Chong goes on to warn of losing seats in Congress to “gun grabbers.”
Jay Steiger, a parent and past PTA president in the district who previously ran for the LMSV school board, calls the video “disturbing and disrespectful on many levels.” He adds, “By referencing Tide pods, a passing and obviously ridiculous fad which ahs no connection to any student advocates across our nation, Mr. Chong dismisses the thoughtful and passionate voices of our civically engaged young people,” referring to students who staged a national walk-out calling for action to protect schools from mass shootings after a massacre at a Parkland, Florida high school.
Steiger also criticized Chong for using the “false equivalency of the tragedy of the holocaust to suggest there should be more guns” in other posts on Chong’s social media. “This is not only a blatantly incorrect reading of this terrible event, but disrespects the solemn memory of the victims and survivors. By announcing himself as the La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board District President while including pictures of machine guns, Mr. Chong has wrongly linked this district with that image. We, as members of this community, should be supportive of our students and schools, rather than playing to divisive ideology.”
Emily Green posted in reply, “I will not enroll my kids in the LMSV…while he is on the board.”
But Steve Townsend fired back, “What does it matter what kind of business he owns or runs?”
CBS 8, in an article on the Chong controversy, spoke with Maleia Ferreira, a 9th grader at Patrick Henry High School who joined the national walkout calling for tougher gun laws to reduce school shootings. She called Chong’s remarks “really awful,” adding it was “upsetting to hear, because us kids are just trying to speak out for these kids that have gotten killed because of these guns being controlled by other kids.”
Chong has issued a statement bizarrely linking gun control to the Holocaust “in which 6 million disarmed Jews were killed by their own government.” He added, “Those with evil intent are not deterred by `gun free-zone’ signs; criminals don’t obey anti-gun laws. A firearm is the only tool that gives the meek an immediate, irrefutable voice in what happens in their own body against a stronger attacker.”
But Carol Landale, a member of San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention, believes educators should support students—and that kids rallying around the nation since the Parkland slaughter by a gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle may ultimately bring about change, along with their families.
“Children have parents and parents vote,” she told CBS 8, “and in a few more years, the kids will be voting.”
Meanwhile, registered voters in the LMVA will have the opportunity to vote out, or reelection, Chong in November.
Chong isn’t the only local school board member in the crosshairs of public criticism for touting gun owners’ rights over students’ safety concerns. As ECM reported earlier this month, Cajon Valley Union School District board member Jim Miller wore an NRA hat and T-shirt to a meeting where advocates of gun violence prevention had showed up to address the board. Miller also fired off a derisive email to a retired teacher who had written to ask the district to adopt a resolution supporting actions called for by the Parkland students to combat gun violence. Miller signed his letter on behalf of the San Diego Gun Owners Political Action Committee.