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 »
MEETING WITH SENATE GOP
Trump to Hill Next Tuesday
35 minutes ago
THE DETAILS
INTERPARTY FEUDING CONTINUES UNDER PEREZ
Longtime Progressive Members Pushed Out at DNC
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A shake-up is underway at the Democratic National Committee as several key longtime officials have lost their posts, exposing a still-raw rift in the party and igniting anger among those in its progressive wing who see retaliation for their opposition to DNC Chairman Tom Perez. The ousters come ahead of the DNC's first meeting, in Las Vegas, Nevada, since Perez took over as chairman with a pledge this year to unite a party that had become badly divided during the brutal Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton 2016 primary race."

Source:
LAST-DITCH FOR A FEW, SPECIFIC CASES
FDA Approves Personalized Cancer Therapy
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS
WILL RESIGN BY JAN. 31
Rep. Tiberi Confirms Resignation Report
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a statement, Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH 12) confirmed a New York Times report that he would resign to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable. "While I have not yet determined a final resignation date, I will be leaving Congress by January 31, 2018."

Source:
AID DROPPED TO 222,000
Unemployment Claims Fall to Lowest in 44 Years
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level" since March 1973. According to the Labor Department Thursday, "claims for jobless aid dropped by 22,000 to 222,000." Additionally, "the less volatile four-week average slid by 9,500 to 248,250, lowest since late August."

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