NRA's Bizarre Press Conference: 'More Guns Now!'
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Flat-screen displays that flanked the podium at the Dec. 21, 2012, NRA press event were used to promote the association's armed-schools program, and to show a clip from a violent video game. Photo: A.M. STAN
Hutchinson took pains to assure Tea Party followers that he was not advocating a new government program.
After Hutchinson's presentation (transcript of his remarks here), Keene returned to the podium to close the event, when a reporter began shouting a question, asking whether the NRA had sought a meeting with the White House.
"As I indicated at the outset," Keene replied, "this is the beginning of a serious conversation, and we won't be taking any questions today." A conversation, it seems, in which only one side does the talking. Keene did say that the leaders would entertain questions from the media beginning on Monday. (LaPierre is scheduled to appear this Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press.)
In the meeting room at the Willard where the press conference took place, the mood among journalists -- even mainstream journalists -- was one of incredulity. Journos marveled at how an event so tightly scripted could deliver such a tone-deaf message. But the truth is that NRA leaders aren't looking for popularity among the general public -- or even among their own members. As long as they keep their paymasters -- the gun-makers -- happy, that's all they appear to care about. They've apparently bet that their fear-stoking will pay off in the halls of Congress, where lawmakers have long been loath to cross the lethal behemoth.
But this could be the moment when the NRA has finally jumped the shark; even gun-owners back closing the gun-show loophole that allows gun buyers to skip the background check required for firearm purchase at a store, if only they by their weapons at a gun show instead.
"Wayne LaPierre's bizarre and quite frankly paranoid press conference today is a testament to just how extreme and out of touch the NRA's leadership has become," said Becky Bond, political director of CREDO, in a written statement. "If teachers could stand up to a gunman with a semi-automatic assault weapon, then Congress can stand up to the NRA and its lobbyists. The NRA is clearly doubling down on its extreme agenda in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre."