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
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 »
TOO FRIENDLY WITH COAL?
Manchin Named Top Democrat on Energy Committee
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS
HEADS TO HOUSE FOR FINAL PASSAGE
Senate Passes Farm Bill, 87-13
6 hours ago
THE LATEST
"MERITLESS LAWSUIT"
Stormy Daniels Ordered to Pay Nearly $300K to Trump
6 hours ago
THE LATEST
GOP WILL ADD A SEAT AS WELL
Harris to Remain on Judiciary Committee
11 hours ago
THE LATEST
SAYS MCCONNELL
Senate To Take Up Criminal Justice
13 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate will take up criminal justice reform legislation as soon as this week, marking a win for President Donald Trump and a remarkable turnaround for the bill. The latest version of the measure could be released as soon as Tuesday, according to two sources familiar with the matter, and is likely to win over more Republican support on a plan that had sharply divided the GOP."

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