You might think that “spokesman for the National Rifle Association” is the toughest job in PR. You might be wrong. At least once a year, and several times in bad years, reporters reach out to the NRA’s Andrew Arulanandam and ask him whether the gun lobby has anything to say about the latest massacre. Arulanandam says basically the same thing, every time.
After the April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech shootings that killed 32 people: “The NRA joins the entire country in expressing our deepest condolences to the families of Virginia Tech University and everyone else affected by this horrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.”
After the Feb. 14, 2008, shootings at Northern Illinois University that killed six: “We think it is poor form for a politician or a special interest group to try to push a legislative agenda on the back of any tragedy. Now is the time for the Northern Illinois University community to grieve and to heal. We believe there is adequate time down the road to debate policy and politics."
After the April 3, 2009, massacre at a Binghamton, N.Y., immigration center that killed 13: “Now is not the time to debate politics or discuss policy. It's time for the families and communities to grieve.”
After the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting spree that wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six: “At this time, anything other than prayers for the victims and their families would be inappropriate.”
After the July 20, 2012, massacre at an Aurora, Colo., theater that left 12 dead and 58 wounded: “We believe that now is the time for families to grieve and for the community to heal. There will be an appropriate time down the road to engage in political and policy discussions.”
The “appropriate time” never arrives. It’s an ingenious communications strategy, one that removes the NRA from stories about the latest national outrages. When the outrage fades, the NRA returns in full flush. Just a week before the Newtown, Conn., shootings, Arulanandam told a reporter that the NRA was “planning for the worst” and had “told people to plan for gun bans and a Supreme Court stacked with anti-gun judges.”
So the NRA says publicly "pray for the victims" ...and privately whispers to its members: "Obama's gon' come fer yer guns". What bravery.
Clue to the clueless: when even NRA members like Joe Manchin and Joe Scarborough say that it's time... it's time.
Sadly, the White House is still pussy-footing around.
When asked at Monday's press briefing about the gun lobby's influence on potential action, White House spokesman Jay Carney responded, without specifically mentioning that lobby, "I think we all recognize that this is a complex problem and there are obstacles to taking action coming from a variety of places. What the president hopes is that everyone steps back and looks at the situation that has to be addressed and thinks broadly and thoughtfully about how we can move forward."
Jay Carney, you will recall, parroted the NRA's "now is not the time" line in the immediate wake of the tragedy. With fiscal incline talks at a delicate point, I doubt whether Obama is going to be using his bully pulpit half as effectively as James Dobson. Even after Gabby Giffords was nearly killed -- as several others were, including a member of her staff, a 9-year-old girl, and a federal judge -- the DOJ did not follow through on tightening up the loopholes associated with background checks because the 2012 election was coming.
The Giffords massacre happened in early 2011, almost two years before last month... and in the wake of the Tea Party shellacking in 2010. So there was no courage to be summoned for gun control no matter what.
That's despite the fact that much of the worst gun carnage in this country has occurred on Obama's watch. From this fascinating list of twelve, here's #4: of the 11 deadliest shootings in the US, five have happened since 2007. And that doesn’t include last Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. The death toll stands at 28, including the shooter and his mother, making it the second-deadliest mass shooting in US history.
And the NRA responds by taking its Facebook page down. Their response to Newtown -- just like their fellow travelers at Fox and elsewhere across the country -- is to hunker down. Ride the storm out. Wait to fight another day.
Fuck all of these cowardly so-called leaders. Every last one of them that refuses to take action to stop this bloodshed. If Australia can do it, why can't we?
Are the people of this great nation as worthy of brave politicians as the Aussies, or not?
The NRA is a pasty-faced domestic terror network -- you can't call them a cell when their cells are all over the country -- operating out in the open and thoroughly corrupting our legislative process. They need to be classified as domestic terrorists, and they need to be prosecuted as such.
Too bad nobody has the stones to do that, though.