2011: A Year In The NRA's "Insane, Paranoid" Conspiracy Theories

 Former National Rifle Association (NRA) chief Ray Arnet once said, "You keep any special interest group alive by nurturing the crisis atmosphere." The organization has long taken this sentiment to heart. For years, the NRA has warned that nationwide gun bans and confiscation were right around the corner. These threats made up in hysterical rhetoric for what they lacked in credibility.

Arnet's comments demonstrate why the organization has adopted such a dishonest strategy. To sustain its $200-million-plus annual budget, the organization relies upon donations from both its members and the gun industry; constant fearmongering boosts donations from both. By working their members into a frenzy, they can better convince them to financially support the NRA and thus stave off that dark future.

The effort also encourages existing gun owners to purchase more firearms in case such laws are actually passed; new sales to current gun owners are essential to the gun industry given that the number of households owning a gun is in long term decline. Terrifying gun owners bolsters gun sales, which in turn keeps the gun industry profitable enough to direct more funds back to the NRA.

But sometimes, your run-of-the-mill fearmongering just isn't enough. In 2011 the NRA repeatedly turned to one of their favorite weapons to keep alive this crisis atmosphere justifying their extremist political agenda and their own existence: conspiracy theories. Below, Media Matters documents a few of our favorites of the year.


Speaking through their myriad media platforms and any number of conservative media outlets the NRA's paranoid pronouncements were often aimed at President Barack Obama. But it's been a tough sell after Obama largely abandoned efforts to enact gun control legislation, earning him a F rating from the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. So NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre got creative, arguing in a September speech that Obama ignored gun control as part of a plot to secretly "destroy the second amendment":

But it's a big fat stinking lie, just like all the other lies that have come out of this corrupt administration. It's all part -- it's all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in our country.


Before the President was even sworn into office, they met and they hatched a conspiracy of public deception to try to guarantee his re-election in 2012.

LaPierre's comments quickly drew well deserved derision from commentators. Jon Stewart summoned up the credibility of LaPierre's conspiracy theory, saying, "It's just so crazy, it's F*#king crazy."

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow also called out LaPierre's comments, saying: "The NRA says the way you can tell Obama is coming for your guns, is that he's not coming for you guns.  It's genius! That is the insane paranoid message from the NRA this year."

Maddow's colleague Chris Matthews similarly described La Pierre's comments as "another strain of the crazy far right" and noted their similarity to "civil war talk."

Becoming the object of widespread mockery did little to slow down LaPierre's conspiratorial rhetoric. In October, the NRA executive doubled down on his theory, telling Newsmax.tv that a "second term by President Obama will break that back" of the Second Amendment.

The rest of the organization made no effort to distance themselves from this theory. Undeterred by the reaction to LaPierre's comments, NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox in fact suggested that the media was in on the conspiracy. Listing half a dozen major news outlets Cox warned the media was engaging in "deceitful effort" to attack gun owners to help Obama win re-election in order to "destroy your rights."

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Media Matters / By Chris Brown | Sourced from

Posted at December 27, 2011, 9:24am

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