The National Rifle Association’s president David Keene ended Friday’s news conference—the gun lobby’s first public comments since the massacre in Newtown, Conn.—with these words: “This is the beginning of a serious conversation. We won’t be taking questions today.” Shoot first and never answer questions. That pretty much sums up the news conference. The NRA’s spokesperson, Wayne LaPierre, who delivered the NRA’s message, was defiant and defensive, blaming, Hollywood, the media, video games that no one plays anymore, the lack of a mental health data base, and, at base, a corrupt, lawless society where the only hope in case of an emergency is to arm yourself (the only thing that will stop the bad guys with guns is a good guy with guns). Blaming everyone and everything except the NRA’s refusal to consider any sort of gun control legislation. His “serious solution” was calling for security officers to be stationed at every school. LaPierre spoke with an edge to his voice and a look in his eye that was frightening.
The response has been amazing. The headlines from the two New York newspapers demonstrate that the news conference was a PR blunder of massive proportions. Let us hope the politicians who have been in the gun lobby’s pocket will begin to see the NRA for what it really is, a fringe group of loonies.