Pivoting Politicians? They Learned it from the NRA
It was May, 1999, a month after the Columbine massacre. Testifying before the House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told federal lawmakers “We think it’s reasonable to provide mandatory, instant criminal background checks for every sale, at every gun show no loopholes anywhere for anyone.”
Flash forward to February, 2013 a day after “American Sniper” Chris Kyle was shot and killed on a gun range not a “gun-free zone” despite his skills. Then, declared LaPierre on Fox News in a 180 degree pivot, universal background checks were unthinkable because they were the first step to a registry and government tyranny. (Gun violence is really caused by gangs in cities like Chicago he told an incredulous Chris Wallace who asked how gangs pertained to the Newtown, Aurora and Clackamas Town Center massacres.)
Universal background checks were not LaPierre’s only pivot. In 2008, to defeat Obama, LaPierre actually quoted candidate Hillary Clinton as a pro-gun voice to prove that President Obama would be a gun grabber. During the same campaign, Mitt Romney was ridiculed by the gun lobby for a weak hunting resume; Trump, apparently, didn’t get the memo.
Of course when it comes to federal regulation, the NRA has an ongoing pivot. It hates all laws except the ones it gets on the books. For example, the Tiahrt amendments, tacked on to appropriations bills since 2003, prohibit ATF from releasing firearm trace data for use by cities, states, researchers, litigants and members of the public. Let’s get those bad guys! They also mandate destruction of purchaser records within 24 hours.
The NRA also pushes laws to make it illegal for employers to ask an employee if he brought a gun to work and doctors to ask patients if they have guns in the home.
After the mentally ill Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007 with a weapon he purchased legally, the NRA enacted another pivot. It pretended to work with Congress on a bill to close the associated loopholes but it was a con job.
“In several ways this bill is better for gun owners than current law,” read the NRA web site. “Under H.R. 2640, certain types of mental health orders will no longer prohibit a person from possessing or receiving a firearm. Examples are adjudications that have expired or been removed, or commitments from which a person has been completely released with no further supervision required. Also excluded are federal decisions about a person’s mental health that consist only of a medical diagnosis, without a specific finding that the person is dangerous or mentally incompetent.”
Perhaps the biggest NRA pivot is—it wants the same jackbooted government it hates to protect gun owners from the scary press!
After the Memphis Commercial Appeal posted online a searchable base of the state’s 220,000 gun permit holders, some of whom had arrest and conviction records, Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action went ballistic.
“Your decision to publicize the personal information of Right-to-Carry permit holders in Tennessee is unjustifiable, disgraceful, and dangerous,” he whined in an unpublished letter to the Appeal on the NRA web site. Dangerous? Don’t their guns make them safe?