Sunday, August 19, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: For NRA, gun debate is all about money

It has been a rough few days for the English language. But this is what happens when crazy crashes into Baghdad Bob delusion.

A quick review before we get to the main act.

Within days of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings, the rhetorical fruit flies were multiplying at an alarming rate. During an appearance at a CNN town hall meeting, Sen. Marco Rubio insisted he is not a mouthpiece for the National Rifle Association. Cue the eye-rolling.

Rubio argued with a straight face that the NRA had spent more than $3 million to help him get re-elected because it agreed with his agenda instead of the other way around. What agenda? — if you don’t count the care and feeding of Rubio’s hubris.

In Tallahassee, Ben Kelly, a flunky for state Rep. Shawn Harrison of Tampa, referred to two Douglas High students as fake "crisis actors." Kelly was fired by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who managed to find time away from arguing the AR-15 assault rifle, which caused all the carnage, is actually a wonderful hunting weapon.

But nothing rivaled the gibberish offered up by the NRA’s leading propagandists, CEO Wayne LaPierre and his sidekick Dana Loesch. The duo appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland to bemoan how the murder of 17 students and school officials at Douglas High is being exploited to "eradicate all individual freedoms."

Perhaps you are among those who have been lulled into the myth that the NRA exists to protect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. It used to. It doesn’t anymore.

The NRA was once at the forefront of promoting reasonable, responsible gun ownership. It supported the 1934 National Firearms Act and later the Federal Firearms Act, which required taxes on gun dealers, reduced access to machine guns and pushed for waiting periods for buying a handgun. Imagine that happening today. Or perhaps not.

In the wake of the Parkland shootings, the NRA had an opportunity to commit an act of civic rationality in promoting restrictions on the sale of the AR-15 and toughening background checks on the sale of weapons — such as closing the gun show loophole — safety options that were once the hallmark of the organization founded in 1871.

But LaPierre and Loesch balked. To support sensible gun reforms would undermine what the NRA has become, a twisted coven of paranoia, conspiracy theories and fear-mongering.

At CPAC, LaPierre fretted the latest school shootings were being used to bring about a "growing socialist state," leading to a movement by the federal government, especially (cough, cough) "deep state" agencies like the FBI and Justice Department, to eventually confiscate everyone’s guns.

LaPierre set the table for Loesch, who argued the Parkland bloodbath was actually the handiwork of the media, who, as we all know, love mass murders since they present an opportunity to air images of "crying white mothers (who) are ratings gold."

How would it be remotely possible for the NRA — after stoking dread among its members that they "should be anxious. You should be frightened — to reverse course and engage in a coherent discussion on gun control?

That would be bad for the real business of the NRA as the leading lobbyist and apologist arm of the gun manufacturing industry.

You may believe this national debate over gun control is about the right of someone to own a weapon. It is not. It is about preserving the bottom line of the merchants of death. It is most certainly about the NRA protecting its own revenue stream by scaring people into believing we live in a police state where law enforcement institutions cannot be trusted.

Gullibility combined with a "We’re all doomed!" mind-set is still a bull market — with a bullet.

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