A billboard truck that began rolling across the country today advertises the estimated number of gun-related homicides since the January 8 massacre in Tucson.
It's the latest gun-control propaganda tactic by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an East-Coast group spearheaded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Manino.
The number on the truck, as of today, estimates that about 1,300 murders-by-gun have occurred in the United States since Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others were shot by suspect Jared Loughner.
The number goes up by about 34 victims a day, the mayors said in news reports and a press release put out earlier today by Bloomberg's group.
Jason Post, a spokesman for Bloomberg, tells us that the figures were gleaned from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and don't include suicides.
Internet users can follow the truck's progress on www.fixgunchecks.org. Post says he's not sure when the truck will come to Tucson or Phoenix, but says it'll take about six weeks before it reaches the West Coast.
This is the second time in the last few weeks that Bloomberg's group has used the Tucson shooting to advance its goals. In late January, Bloomberg spent an estimated $100,000 from his city's treasury in a Phoenix gun show "sting," during which NYC detectives bought guns while posing as "straw buyers" for convicted criminals.
Local Republican leaders, namely Governor Jan Brewer and state Attorney General Tom Horne, told Bloomberg publicly to butt out of Arizona's business following the sting, which didn't result in any arrests and wasn't coordinated with local law enforcement.
The deeper message behind the gun-death numbers, from the mayors' point of view, is to lobby for two specific gun-control ideas. Bloomberg and the others want a federal law to help ensure that records of convicted felons and the severely mentally ill are entered into the background-check system for gun purchases. They're also demanding background checks for all sales of guns, whether they occur at retail stores, gun shows or someone's home.
Yet we imagine that the billboard truck will only serve to boost gun sales, judging by what happened after the Tucson shooting.
When people see the East-Coast mayors' billboard truck, many will think: Gee, thugs with guns sure kill a lot of people.
Some will follow that with a second thought: To guard against the thugs, it might be better to own a gun.