The National Rifle Association has done a fine job of making a fool of itself since the Newtown massacre. Just the other day a new commercial hit the airwaves. It consists of simple visuals with a voiceover attacking President Obama. Here’s the text of the ad:
Are the President’s kids more important than yours? Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools, when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school? Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. But, he is just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security. Protection for their kids, and gun free zones for ours.
This ad hits some great notes. The tax language communicates to the right wing that this ad is for them, while calling the President an elitist is a classic frame used to attack liberalism. Finally, the NRA has been attacking gun free zones as part of the problem, arguing that if staff are allowed to be armed, school shootings would never occur (ridiculous). But it’s the main message of the ad that has set off so many alarms.
Yes, the NRA is attacking the President for having a Secret Service detail attached to his children. There are only a handful of people in this country that require around the clock security, I mean truly require it. I think it’s safe to say that the President of the United States and his immediate family qualify. Disregarding all the quacks, racists, and conspiracy nut jobs who threaten the President and his family on a daily basis, the man is also running a war. He really does have enemies, in the classical sense of the word. And we, the voters, put him in that position. His enemies are our enemies. The government we pay for has a responsibility to keep the President safe, obviously, and his family as well, in order for him to continue to do the toughest job in the world without the distraction of worrying about his kids. I would imagine his worry would be quite acute compared to most parents, as there are people who would gladly do terrible things to his daughters and post them on the internet as a way to attack this country.
To suggest, as the NRA does, that President Obama is a hypocrite because he hasn’t offered the same level of suffocating security for all children is spurious and cheap. It’s also extraordinarily tone-deaf. Sometimes an ad or a statement becomes public and my first reaction isn’t anger, but bewilderment. That’s the case here. How did intelligent adults sit together in a room and come up with this ad? What were they thinking? More importantly, how can the NRA keep on with this consistent pattern of nonsensical behavior without stopping for one second to reflect on how far it’s placed itself outside of public opinion? It’s as if no one in that entire organization understands how deeply wounded the country was by the Newtown massacre. They are not just looking out of touch at this point. They look like they care more about their guns than about dead children.
But, it’s even worse than that.
The NRA publicly claims to represent gun owners. Yet the NRA receives millions of dollars a year from the firearms industry. Some reports suggest the number is north of 30 million dollars. In effect, the firearms industry has purchased a lobbying group that uses its clout to weaken gun control laws throughout the country, in the name of protecting Second Amendment rights. But rights are a secondary concern of the NRA and the firearms industry.
The purpose of weakening gun control laws is to spur the sale of firearms. There are almost as many guns in this country as there are people. The only way to keep the industry from flatlining is to decrease the barriers to gun ownership, and increase the variety of guns, so that people won’t buy just one gun, but will stock up on two, three, ten, whatever. This isn’t about freedom. It’s about profit. The firearms industry, and thus the NRA, do not want a safer America. They want a society that is chaotic enough to frighten people into arming themselves, growing the death coffers in the process. They use apocalyptic and revolutionary rhetoric and propaganda as a means to spur popular resistance to gun control measures, treating their members and other gun owners as dupes. Yes, they do care more about their guns than about dead children. Dead children have never put one cent into their bank accounts.