NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Takes a Victory Lap

Pundits called him and his movement dead after he said incendiary things post-Sandy Hook. They were wrong.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
Add to Briefcase
Lucia Graves
March 6, 2014, 11:29 a.m.

It’s been a while since we heard from Wayne LaPierre. The last time the Na­tion­al Rifle As­so­ci­ation lead­er made head­lines, a ram­page shoot­er had killed 26 chil­dren in Con­necti­c­ut and he was the guy to come out for more guns in schools and great­er re­stric­tions on “¦ video games. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said at the time. The me­dia ri­diculed him, deem­ing his speech tone-deaf, in­ef­fect­ive, out-of-touch, and a fail­ure.

“If there’s any­thing to take away from this press con­fer­ence,” The Amer­ic­an Pro­spect wrote then, “it’s that politi­cians should not be afraid of the NRA. Its mys­tique is gone.” Later, in a cov­er story titled “This Is How the NRA Ends,” The New Re­pub­lic would ar­gue that the con­ver­sa­tions fol­low­ing Sandy Hook were “not the end of hopes for gun re­form, but the be­gin­ning.”

A year later, after gun con­trol failed loudly in Con­gress in 2013, it’s pretty clear they were wrong. And not just a little wrong: spec­tac­u­larly wrong.

In his speech at the Con­ser­vat­ive Polit­ic­al Ac­tion Con­fer­ence on Thursday, LaPierre en­joyed rub­bing that very thing in the me­dia’s col­lect­ive face. After cit­ing their off-base cov­er­age of his speech in the wake of Sandy Hook, he con­tin­ued to mount a lar­ger at­tack.

“One of Amer­ica’s greatest threats is a na­tion­al news me­dia that fails to provide a level play­ing field for the truth,” LaPierre told a packed room. “Now it’s all en­ter­tain­ment rat­ings, per­son­al celebrity, the next sen­sa­tion­al story, and the de­lib­er­ate spin­ning and pur­pose­ful use of words and lan­guage, truth be damned, to ad­vance their agenda.”

He went on to link his hatred of the me­dia to his dis­taste for politi­cians, ar­guing the two have joined forces to “mis­in­form and de­ceive” the Amer­ic­an pub­lic, a sen­ti­ment which earned him mild ap­plause. “They lie bills in­to law, they pass le­gis­la­tion they haven’t even read … health care policies, eco­nom­ic policies, for­eign af­fairs — all seem re­peatedly reck­less,” he fumed. “The IRS is now a weapon to pun­ish any­one who dis­agrees with them, and that means every one of you.”

The way LaPierre de­scribed things, everything was “us” versus “them.” It was all politi­cians and the me­dia versus or­din­ary Amer­ic­ans and, as we learned later, their guns.

“We don’t trust gov­ern­ment be­cause gov­ern­ment it­self has proved un­worthy of our trust. We trust ourselves,” he said. “We trust our free­dom.”

LaPierre’s speech came mere hours after Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell sought to win con­ser­vat­ive hearts by walk­ing on­stage with a rifle in hand. He im­me­di­ately passed the gun off to Sen. Tom Coburn of Ok­lahoma, but no mat­ter. The gim­mick worked. It was the only time that the audi­ence cheered loudly dur­ing Mc­Con­nell’s en­tire time on stage.

That en­thu­si­asm was on dis­play again for LaPierre’s speech as he fired up the crowd, ask­ing the audi­ence wheth­er they trust the gov­ern­ment to pro­tect them. (The an­swer: a re­sound­ing “No!”)

In a fi­nal in­sult to the me­dia’s cov­er­age of his Sandy Hook speech, he re­peated the quote that made him in­fam­ous in the wake of the New­town shoot­ing: “The surest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said.

And the audi­ence loved it.

The NRA, LaPierre con­tin­ued, proudly stands for the Amer­ica we all want, “un­flinch­ing in de­fense of one uni­fy­ing prin­ciple: in­di­vidu­al free­dom for all.”

The crowd was on its feet now, clap­ping and cheer­ing as LaPierre’s speech seemed to veer in­to the strange ter­rit­ory of the free­dom-lov­ing speech Bill Pull­man gives as Pres­id­ent Thomas Whit­more in In­de­pend­ence Day, tak­ing on an al­most post-apo­ca­lyptic qual­ity.

“The NRA will not go quietly in­to the night,” he cried. “We will fight. I prom­ise you that.”

He walked off stage as Dav­id Guetta’s “Ti­tani­um” played.

Ri­co­chet, you take your aim. Fire away, fire away. You shoot me down but I won’t fall. I am ti­tani­um.

 

 

What We're Following See More »
BIPARTISAN SUPPORT YIELDS 87 VOTES IN FAVOR
Senate OKs Perdue as Agriculture Secretary
37 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

It took long enough, but the Trump administration finally includes an Agriculture secretary. "The Senate easily approved Sonny Perdue on Monday" by a count of 87-11. Perdue enjoyed the support of Democrats like Delaware's Chris Coons and Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, both of whom spoke in his favor.

Source:
ANOTHER ETHICAL THICKET
State Department Highlights Mar-a-Lago in Advertisement
37 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"A media arm of the State Department is using federal resources to promote President Donald Trump’s private Florida golf club, fueling scrutiny of the nexus between the president’s official duties and his personal financial interests." On April 4, "Share America, the State Department’s social media-friendly news website, paid homage to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club ... hailing the president’s use of 'the winter White House, as Share America dubbed it, to host world leaders."

Source:
NOT WORRIED ABOUT BUDGET NEUTRALITY
Trump Wants to Slash Corporate Rate to 15%
17 hours ago
THE LATEST
PROMISES “MASSIVE” CUTS
Trump Tax Reform Package Coming Next Week
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

President Trump today said he'll be releasing his tax reformpacakge next week around the 100-day mark of his presidency. He promised that "businesses and individuals will receive a 'massive tax cut ... bigger I believe than any tax cut ever."

Source:
ONLY BROAD PRINCIPLES
Mulvaney: Tax Reform Details Won’t Be Released This Week
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

Despite President Trump's announcement that his tax reform proposal would be released this week, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney now says it will be ready in June. This week's announcement will be limited to "specific governing principles."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login