I shouldn’t have been surprised at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) public statements since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and the Obama Administration’s efforts to address gun violence. Yet I was, initially.
I had suggested in this blog that the NRA moderate its tone in light of the shock the nation has felt after Sandy Hook. My public relations advice was for a quiet, “let’s talk” approach with maybe a hint of compromise. Instead, the NRA has dug in its heels and gone after its opponents with guns blazing, so to speak.
After NRA officials met with Vice President Biden and other officials last week, the pro-gun ownership organization issued a statement saying it was “disappointed” with the “White House’s agenda to attack the Second Amendment.” Its leadership, which earlier had called for armed officers in every school, said that they warned us that President Obama’s re-election would mean he would push his anti-gun agenda. One NRA official went so far to say that the school shootings were Obama’s excuse for moving his long-term plans forward. As if the president was waiting for the next mass murder to make his move.
It’s been pointed out to me here and outside of the blogosphere that the NRA is doing what its members expect it to do: conduct an all-out, very public defense effort to stop any government action that could limit the purchase of firearms. So, in fact, the organization IS conducting a good PR campaign. It is playing the role of protagonist on behalf of its primary constituency–its 4.2 million members–and making them feel that they’re getting their dues’ worth. Acts of compromise, damaging opinion polls and public goodwill be damned; the NRA’s message remains consistent, rigid and unyielding. Your thoughts?