by Patrick Vecchio
The cynicism of Wayne LaPierre’s press conference Friday becomes clearer every day. LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s chief executive, desperately tried an obvious media spin trick. The national media should call him out and keep hammering him. It will further show how deranged the NRA’s response to the Sandy Hook massacre is.
You’ll recall the first ground rule for the press conference was established by NRA President David Keene before he introduced LaPierre: The NRA was going to ignore reporters’ questions until Monday. The words “until Monday” are key.
Public relations professionals, press agents and political spokespersons try to avoid announcing bad news until late afternoon Fridays. They hope the bad news will be less apt to get attention or generate discussion over the weekend. They hope by Monday, the story will be running out of legs because the weekend has defused it.
After a week of silence, LaPierre and the NRA knew they had to say something before gun control advocates took ownership of the discussion about preventing another Sandy Hook slaughter. No matter when the NRA brass crawled out of their spider hole, they were going to have to face the blinding media light.
Obviously, the “quiet until late Friday” trick was doomed. The delay in answering questions until Monday, though, is a deliberate move. Monday is Christmas Eve. Tuesday is Christmas. LaPierre and Keene hope the weekend and the holidays will give them time to regroup and mitigate the damage from LaPierre’s ranting.
After LaPierre’s rant blamed anything but guns for Sandy Hook, he composed himself enough to say Congress should pay for an armed guard at every one of America’s 99,000 public schools. Such a program would cost billions of dollars a year and do next to nothing to keep schools safer. An armed guard can’t cover every point of entry to a school building. An armed guard would be a killer’s first target. Killers would bring more firepower to neutralize the guard. A dead guard would put another weapon in the killer’s hands.
If a more bizarre public policy plan surfaced in 2012, I can’t remember it.
As those points and others are being discussed by millions of people who have never discussed these points before, people have been reminded the supposedly all-powerful NRA has only 4 million members in a nation of 315 million people. A coalition of other interest groups could easily neutralize the NRA. The bumper sticker “I’m the NRA and I vote” would be countered by “I’m not the NRA, and we outnumber you.”
This, of course, assumes elected officials have the decency and courage to act in the interests of millions of constituents who are saying to do something to regulate gun ownership. But the NRA doesn’t exist for gun owners. It exists to make sure the firearms industry continues to profit from the sale of bullets and guns. Those industries funnel millions of dollars into the right politicians’ pockets to sway their votes. Are Americans ready to get together and outspend the industries? Are Americans willing to call out those politicians as spineless MRA cronies?
Sandy Hook has changed the stereotyped dynamic of the NRA vs. everyone else. There’s no way to measure this, but it’s safe to say not every NRA member marches to the beat of the demented drummer LaPierre. How many of those 4 million members are ready to say enough is enough? This number is much higher than LaPierre thinks—or perhaps he sees a substantial number of members turning away from the organization’s dogma and has no response plan in place.
It’s ironic that NRA members who line up to the political right might support a government program that would increase public spending by billions of dollars a year. Haven’t they been saying for years that “big government” is our nation’s biggest problem?
As for people who own arsenals so they can fight against government tyranny, do they really think that when the black helicopters land and the black tanks rumble through the country, a tyrant’s sheer firepower won’t crush them like bugs?
The NRA’s political power is on the ropes. Americans must move in for the knockout.