A day late and a dollar short best describes the National Rifle Association’s inept response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. As the nation’s most powerful defender of the second amendment (the right to bear arms), the NRA displayed cowardly silence for more than a week following the shooting. Then four days before Christmas, the NRA held ghoulish 30-minute press conference America would have been better off never witnessing.
Contrary to the banners held up by protesters at the event that read “ the NRA kills children,” it doesn’t but the NRA does do VERY bad public relations. Replete with the grandeur of a presidential like set, the NRA’s press conference unfolded like theatre of the absurd with the wrong message and messenger. Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre delivered robotic remarks worthy of a Grinch or similar soulless character.
While there were elements in LaPierre's 30-minute diatribe that made sense, those comments were overpowered by nonsense: blaming gun violence on video games and Hollywood. Sigh. Video games like Kindergarten Killers are “callous” and part of an industry that “sows, violence against its own people,” LaPierre noted. But one could argue those who “occasionally” sell guns to individuals (possible criminals) at gun shows or private sellers of guns, both of whom are not required under federal law to conduct background checks on buyers, are also conduits of the same violence.
When Wayne blamed “the blood soaked slasher films” for the carnage Lanza wrought, America’s eyes rolled. His equating gun violence depicted in movies “with the filthiest form of pornography” to describe another factor fueling violence in America and responsible for the Sandy Hook murders was distasteful.
Boys are killing due to a lack of parenting and our nation’s under diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Kids can’t play video games unless parents buy them nor can they watch violent films unless parents allow them or buy their tickets. Moreover, and most importantly, when parents are spending time with their children teaching them life is precious and guns kill when used by bad guys or handled improperly, kids don’t kill. This would have been a message in tune with the moment for LaPierre to share with America.
Within the context of a more compassionate tone, the NRA’s recommendations of arming schools with security to protect children from “monsters and predators” would have held more credibility. LaPierre reminded us “we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security.” We also protect our President and Members of Congress with armed security.
Yet, we leave innocent children defenseless at schools, LaPierre added, then turn around and remind maniacs schools are gun free zones. When LaPierre suggested placing armed security in our nation’s schools, the media expressed collective disdain at the notion, even ridicule. This is ironic considering predominately black schools located in cities across the country like DC, Chicago, Detroit and New York have been armed with security and metal detectors for over 20 years, yet I haven’t heard cries of disgust from the media. Ah, the hypocrisy of the left. What’s good for little black kids isn’t good for the rest of America’s school children.
Other salient points were made during the 30 minute lecture such as the 40% decline in federal gun prosecutions over the past decade and the media’s relentless demonization of lawful (and responsible) gun owners. LaPierre was also 100% correct when he noted the media continues to misreport gun facts, “They don’t know what they’re talking about.” Nor do they care. I witnessed this first hand when I appeared on a liberal leaning political show this year. As we discussed the topic of gun laws, I noted the term assault weapon is misleading.
I said assault rifles are defined as fully automatic weapons used by the military and these guns were prohibited from being sold to civilians under the 1986 Fire Arm Owners Protection Act; therefore, semi-automatic rifles aren’t assault rifles. I told the host the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was also misleading because it banned semi-automatic guns not assault rifles, which are illegal. The host emphatically insisted I was wrong on both counts when I wasn’t and made no attempt to clarify her inaccurate statements after the show aired.
LaPierre could have added data fails to prove rigid gun laws like Connecticut’s prevent violent crimes. More laws wouldn’t have stopped Adam Lanza from killing 27 people with a gun his mother purchased legally. Lanza killed because his mother was a negligent, irresponsible gun owner and he was a mentally ill kid who had access to her guns.
Regrettably, the NRA’s attempt to defend the 2nd amendment and offer solutions in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy was lost in a bizarre parody of itself. Rather than rising to the occasion with a thoughtful response the day the shooting occurred, the NRA waited in a foxhole like a coward for the intensity of the moment to pass.
I agree with Mr. LaPierre when we call 911 to report an intruder in our home, we pray the police will show up with a gun in hand because as LaPierre said, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a guy is a good guy with a gun.” It’s just too bad the NRA’s chief spokesperson came off looking like an "American Psycho" rather than a good guy with a gun.
Crystal Wright is author of the newly released book Con Job: How Democrats Gave Us Crime, Sanctuary Cities, Abortion Profiteering, and Racial Division. She is also the principal owner of the Baker Wright Group, LLC , a full service public relations firm, specializing in communications counseling, media relations, message development, media training and crisis communications. The firm’s approach is straight forward: an unvarnished approach to public relations.