Did you know that in 1999, after the Columbine High School massacre, the National Rifle Association’s very own Wayne LaPierre testified in favor of universal background checks? I didn’t, but here’s a snippet:
We think it ‘s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone. That means closing the Hinckley loophole so the records of those adjudicated mental ill are in the system.
Oh, and here’s another golden nugget from the same testimony:
We think it ‘s reasonable to support the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act.
Wayne LaPierre (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Mr. LaPierre and his organization have been singing a much different tune lately, though, even going so far as denouncing the President and his family as elitist hypocrites for having the audacity to have armed Secret Service.
And on universal background checks, well, he abhors the idea because he feels they won’t prevent every shooting, anyway. Criminals won’t go to the gun store with the background check, anyway.
And yeah, why go to the gun store when they can benefit from the private gun show loophole? That same one that Mr. LaPierre now seems to support.
In last night’s segment on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart took aim at both the arbitrary nature of some of the gun control proposals and the nonsensical arguments the NRA and its allies have been peddling. I mean, Mr. LaPierre is right that universal background checks won’t stop all criminals. And nothing we do can stop all shootings. But anyone who’s realistic already knows this. The point is that we try.
That was the whole point of these hearings and testimonies all this week! That we discuss and debate what we could try that may just work and at least reduce gun violence.
Sadly, it seems that since his 1999 testimony, Mr. LaPierre has not only changed his mind but also his mindset. It’s an all-or-nothing mentality that is only cultivated further at and promoted by the NRA. If something doesn’t work 100%, it’s a nonviable concept and pointless to even bother considering.
I call shenanigans.
If that’s Mr. LaPierre’s attitude, then why did he even show up at these hearings? Why accept the invitation to something that “doesn’t work?” He’s just wasted everyone’s time and, as usual, added nothing new or useful to the conversation. Instead, he just doubled down on his efforts to delegitimize any thought of addressing the issues at hand as frivolous and “not serious.”
With the mindset Mr. LaPierre is openly wallowing in, it’s no surprise that he’s managed to twist the narrative of reasonable gun control into a pre-apocalyptic assault on liberties starting with the Second Amendment. An all-or-nothing approach to life and policy can prove to be fertile ground for extremism on any matter or issue.
Furthermore, he continues to do great disservice to the very same law-abiding gun owners he claims to represent – I mean look at the loon they have as a spokesperson! Incredible!
But let’s take a step back and be realistic. Americans both in and outside the NRA are now more in tune with the Wayne LaPierre of 1999, and not the Wayne LaPierre of 2013.
According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 85% of Americans support universal background checks, including closing the private gun show loophole. Even NRA members support universal background checks, to the tune of 74% of polled members.
So at best, Mr. LaPierre can only truly claim to represent 26% of the NRA itself. Well, them and the gun manufacturers helping fill the organization’s coffers. A small minority and some wealthy people – ah, there we go, follow the money, it’s all about the Benjamins.
At his testimony this week, Mr. LaPierre repeatedly spoke of taking action that works in the real world while disavowing what doesn’t work in the real world. It used to be that he thought universal background checks were “reasonable.” His words: “No loopholes anywhere for anyone.”
Times have obviously changed, and so has he.
Mr. LaPierre’s all-or-nothing stance is lampooned in this HuffPost article with a brief photo slideshow, titled “Things Other Than Universal Background Checks That Don’t Always Work” – but we try them, anyway, because they just might help!
The list includes:
- Speed limits
- Flu shots
- Fire alarms
- Food inspections
- Cancer screenings
- Bike helmets
- Seat belts
Seems to me that Wayne LaPierre is just plain out of touch with everything and everyone – reality, public opinion, his own dues-paying members’ opinions and even himself.
Welcome to Bizarro Land. Brought to you by Wayne LaPierre and the NRA.