HOW THE NRA HOODWINKED AMERICA
By Shaun Costello
Somewhere along the way, the National Rifle Association, which is nothing more than a lobbying entity representing the firearms industry, has positioned itself as an organization dedicated to preserving the freedoms of each and every American citizen. This extraordinary advertising coup was achieved by enlisting Hollywood actors like Ronald Reagan and Charlton Heston to espouse
the importance of the firearm as an integral element in America’s history, and in every American’s heritage. America’s freedom from the tyranny of British rule was achieved by means of the gun, claims the NRA, therefore freedom itself, the birthright of every American, can only be maintained by the gun. Early on, the NRA ingratiated itself with alleged patriotic organizations like the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and any and every right wing political entity they could penetrate. Over the years, with careful image control, and effective
advertising, the NRA has positioned itself as the protector of America’s Freedom, and an integral element in the maintenance of democratic rule, as created by America’s founding fathers. The objective of this image campaign was to equate the NRA with all things patriotic, so that the average American would think of the NRA, right up there with the Bill of Rights, The Declaration of Independence, The Boston Tea Party, George Washington, the flag, and Mom’s apple pie.
And it worked. Now that the NRA, which in reality was simply a lobby group for a multi-billion dollar industry, had woven its way into the fabric of patriotic America’s tapestry, its next move was to begin donating to key political campaigns, creating a network of obligated politicians across the country who would vote pro-gun, regardless of their prior, or actual beliefs.
The word was out now for every elected official, regardless of political affiliation. Want to keep your job? Vote pro-gun.
With political power in their grasp, the NRA would control all legislation that might effect or regulate the firearms industry, which has annual revenues exceeding eleven billion dollars. Through fear tactics, and the patriotic bully pulpit, the NRA’s base expanded, and their power became unchallengeable. But suddenly, America woke up. The recent tragic events in Newtown Connecticut have changed everything. A deranged kid with his mother’s legally bought, .223 Caliber military assault rifle, slaughtered 20 little children in their classrooms, 6 teachers who died protecting their kids, his mother, and finally himself. A catastrophe of such
magnitude that America has been shocked into a reality that might finally put a stop to unregulated manufacture and sale of assault weapons, and the NRA’s strangle hold on the political machinery that allowed those weapons to find their way into the hands of killers.
After a week’s silence, Wayne LaPierre, the President of the NRA, called a news conference this afternoon, finally expressing the NRA’s response to the tragedy in Newtown. His words were shocking, but not surprising. In keeping with the NRA’s policy of ever-expanding gun sales, LaPierre suggested arming teachers and school administrators. Mr. LaPierre stood there at the microphone and said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” So, the NRA-supported firearms industry will supply both the good guys and the bad guys with more guns, and they can shoot it out.
Not this time. America seems finally to have awakened to the NRA’s charade of patriotic hyperbole and congressional manipulation. Twenty kids are dead. Enough. The President seems to have awakened as well, and even some Republican Congressmen are beginning to understand the need for more stringent gun regulation. Will it happen? I hope so. Will Americans finally understand that the Second Amendment, which the NRA successfully tattooed on the American psyche as giving anyone the right to unlimited and unregulated gun ownership, is an archaic instrument, used by the paranoid to assuage their fears and insecurities? I can only hope.
The NRA is not what it claims to be. They’re the playground bully, threatening the weaker kids and stealing their lunch money. Once America begins to understand this simple fact, and politicians stop cowering in fear that their re-election funding will dry up, maybe we’ll stop shooting each other. After all, no playground bully is anywhere near as tough as he thinks. He’s only what you believe he is. Nothing more.
© 2012 Shaun Costello