Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Have you noticed how Wayne LaPierre and the NRA generally present themselves not as lobbyists, or as simply members of a group via paying dues to it, or as subscribers to the NRA magazine (Best Ammo For Saturday Varmit Huntin'; Why Did My Ruger 627-B Jam Up--Questions and Answers). No way. Ever since the Newtown murders (if not before), the NRA presents itself as a foreign potentate, available for public remarks just exactly now, on a busy schedule. They are oracular, and calculatedly so. They expect--demand--deference.
In LaPierre's initial presser a week after Newtown, no questions were allowed. This was, in fact, a theft of power, and the press writ large let it happen. Then there was LaPierre's first appearance with David Gregory. That time he did allow a certain sort of question, but once again, LaPierre controlled the flow of the conversation. I never heard any sort of serious followup. Couple of weeks ago, same interviewer, same relationship. Gregory talks to LaPierre like he's the King of Siam. No matter how rediculous LaPierre's assertions, they just get to stand there.
What's being constructed by the NRA is a facade of omnipotence. LaPierre is the Pope of Rifle. Couple of days ago there was a new big presser, with former Arkansas Congressman Asa Hutchinson driving the bus. Charlie Pierce reports:
I particularly noticed the following:
...task force led by Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas, who unveiled the plan before a packed news conference with an unusually heavy security presence, including a bomb-sniffing yellow Labrador retriever. A dozen officers in both plain clothes and uniforms stood watch as Mr. Hutchinson spoke; before the event began, one of them warned several photographers to "remain stationary" until it was over....
By all means read the whole piece. But notice. This is set up like a press conference in The Sudan. (Or like a George W. Bush personal appearance.) There is a psychological game at work. The NRA is working tirelessly to establish itself as a entity which has the literally last word on anything involving firearms in the US. And their efforts are in many quarters succeeding. Already many local and state governments defer to whatever the NRA happens to assert re firearms. In my state, within days of LaPierre's assertion that what all schools need is more guns our Legislature and our Governor were setting up a study aimed at how best to implement this idea. There has been much discussion, across the country, about the NRA actually teaching school guards. And so it goes. There's also the parallel illusion being foisted: talking about "real solutions" to our fire arms problem is dangerous, so we have to have bodyguards at hand. Thus does the NRA sell fear 24/7.
Meanwhile, the NRA is now opposed even to the provision of the weapons legislation being considered by the United States Congress which makes it illegal to purchase weapons for a third party. Back when I was a kid, if you wanted to buy a pint of whiskey, you could find some guy hanging out near the liquor store and get him to go in and get a bottle for you, for a small fee. That, by the way, was illegal. But it's not illegal at the moment to run that same dodge with firearms.
So, no doubt, the photogs "remained stationary." Too bad one of the great photographers who covered WW II wasn't in the room. He or she would surely have recognized the trappings. The NRA frequently warns of "jackbooted thugs." I guess they know exactly how intimidating jackboots can be.
Here's Dana Millbank's report on the presser: