FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2011 file photo, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks in Washington. Negotiators at the...
Alex Brandon

Short on enemies, NRA’s LaPierre invents a new one

Shortly before Election Day, NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre delivered an election-season message, which seemed oddly detached from reality, even for him.

“When I said Barack Obama would come for our guns and do everything in his power to sabotage the Second Amendment, they savaged me. They called me a liar,” the NRA leader proclaimed. “But every one of those predictions came true.”

Actually, not one of those predictions came true. Obama didn’t come for Americans’ guns – I’m pretty sure we would’ve noticed – and Second Amendment wasn’t sabotaged. And yet, LaPierre, whose business model remains dependent on a boogeyman, quickly added that Obama’s non-existent gun-confiscation campaign would continue unless voters elected the NRA’s Republican allies.

And as it turns out, that worked out pretty well for the far-right organization, though with the NRA’s successes come a new challenge: if the group’s allies now control all federal policymaking, what exactly should NRA members be afraid of? If LaPierre relies on keeping supporters in a perpetual state of near-panic about looming threats posed by Democrats, and Democrats have no meaningful power in Washington, who will LaPierre tell conservatives to be afraid of now?

Apparently, the right is supposed to believe dangerous liberals are on the prowl. TPM reported on LaPierre’s appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
“Right now, we face a gathering of forces that are willing to use violence against us,” he said. “The leftist movement in this country right now is enraged. Among them and behind them are the most radical political elements there are: Anarchists, Marxists, communists and the left of the – the rest of the left-wing socialist parade. They hate everything America stands for: Democracy, free market capitalism, representative government, individual freedom. They want to tear down our system and replace it with their collectivist top-down global-government-knows-best-utopia.” […]

LaPierre wrapped up by attacking the media and insinuating violence against the “violent left” if it brings “terror” to communities.
The NRA leader added, by the way, that progressive activists receive $1,500 a week, which works out to roughly $78,000 a year, well above the median national income. He went on to say anti-Trump protesters “spit in the face of Gold Star families” – which was a curious line of attack given Trump’s own history.

I should note, in case there are any doubts, LaPierre did not appear to be kidding. This was not some kind of skit intended to make conservatives appear foolish; the NRA leader was apparently quite serious.

It’s quite a rhetorical game LaPierre likes to play. If there’s a Democratic White House, he expects NRA members to fear the president. If there’s a Democratic Congress, he expects NRA members to fear lawmakers. And when Democrats control nothing, LaPierre expects NRA members to fear extremely well-paid liberals who’ll soon be “terrorizing” a neighborhood near you.

I don’t doubt some will find his rhetoric persuasive; I’m just not sure why.

CPAC, NRA and Wayne LaPierre

Short on enemies, NRA's LaPierre invents a new one