The Phoenix Mercury team once celebrated the release of one of the world’s most notorious gun dealers, as part of the trade to return their star player Brittany Griner to the United States, but that did not stop the organization from ignoring their own history in order to virtue signal on National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
“In honor of National Gun Violence Awareness Day, we have partnered with Everytown for Gun Safety and the Arizona chapter of volunteer-led Moms Demand Action for the second consecutive season,” tweeted the team. “Tonight’s game will be dedicated to raising awareness for gun safety.”
Griner was arrested in February 2022 in the Moscow Airport after she got caught smuggling cannabis oil into Russia. After Griner spent nearly 10 months in a Russian prison, the Biden administration traded her for convicted Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout.
Bout, otherwise known as the “Merchant of Death,” was alleged to have been involved in channeling weapons to war-torn parts of Africa. According to the BBC, Bout is also accused of aiding and abetting war crimes during the Sierra Leone civil war. Other media reports report he was a gunrunner for al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Bout has been called “one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers.” and according to the Department of Justice, “Between November 2007 and March 2008, Bout agreed to sell to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) – a designated foreign terrorist organization – millions of dollars’
worth of weapons – including 800 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), 30,000 AK-47 firearms, 10 million rounds of ammunition, five tons of C-4 plastic explosives, “ultralight” airplanes outfitted with grenade launchers and unmanned aerial vehicles.”
Everytown, a progressive organization, was co-founded by presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg. The 501(c)(4) focuses on political initiatives across the country designed to undermine the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In May, Everytown joined the Giffords Law Center in filing an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court urging the Court to take up the case to reverse the Fifth Circuit’s decision invalidating a rule issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that prohibited the production, sale, and possession of bump stocks.
Prior to being traded for the arms dealer, Griner had said the national anthem should not be played during the basketball season and stated she would not be on the court for the anthem. Griner explained that if the WNBA continued to play the anthem that was “fine,” but she would not be out there on the court.
Looking at nine years in a Russian labor camp appears to have awoken Griner’s patriotism, and in the Mercury’s final preseason game this year, Griner and her teammates stood for the anthem.
In honor of National Gun Violence Awareness Day, we have partnered with Everytown for Gun Safety and the Arizona chapter of volunteer-led Moms Demand Action for the second consecutive season.
Tonight’s game will be dedicated to raising awareness for gun safety.
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) June 2, 2023