If banning assault weapons and conducting mandatory background checks for gun purchases are as feckless as lobbyists told Congress they were recently, then why do they so vehemently oppose all firearm legislation? In a word: Money.
When NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre and his fellow lobbyists denounce the Assault Weapons Ban as ineffective and point to Columbine as an example, they are actually correct. That statement, however, is disingenuous and lacks one important caveat. A simple glance at this chart proves that, with the exception of the massacre at Columbine, deaths by assault weapons were down.
Additionally, when LaPierre proposes that armed guards be posted at all 140,000 schools across the United States, he intentionally does not mention that Columbine actually had armed security and Virginia Tech — where thirty-two students and teachers were shot dead — has its own police department.
Withholding these facts in order to further his agenda against responsible gun control, LaPierre is playing the organization’s members for fools — mostly impoverished fools who afford the spokesman a lavish lifestyle. And there’s a reason for the obfuscation: Without a base kept ignorant by facts and bolstered by fear, the NRA’s biggest mouthpiece would not have a job (follow the money here).
But the NRA wasn’t always so obtuse about opposing background checks. In fact, in 1999 the organization produced an advertisement that read:
“We think it’s reasonable to provide for instant checks at gun shows just like at gun stores and pawn shops.”
The quote itself is from LaPierre during his testimony at the House Judiciary Committee following the Columbine shootings. Furthermore, the gun lobbyist said that he and his organization fully supported what became known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The NRA, under pressure from extremists within its own ranks, pulled and denounced the ad shortly thereafter.
Following the Sandy Hook massacre LaPierre is back full-force blasting diatribes in the klieg lights while grasping to keep his coffers filled. Meanwhile his followers seem to be turning toward some degree of rationality: Johns Hopkins University recently conducted a poll that showed 75 percent of NRA members actually approved of universal background checks for firearms.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy reminded LaPierre yesterday that he recalled the spokesman’s flip-flop and referred to his 1999 exchange with Congress (watch video here). Yet LaPierre, as he is wont of late, avoided giving a logical response and instead peppered his retort with scare words: “monsters,” “homicidal maniacs,” “the mentally ill,” and the “mentally insane.”
It was patently ironic to rational listeners on both sides of the debate that as LaPierre blithered on nonsensically, he sounded not unlike the people he was describing. And this man has an arsenal.