The National Rifle Association has a challenge: the far-right organization has allies running the federal government. In practical terms, that leaves NRA members with very little to fear, at least in political terms. The chances of a far-right Congress approving gun reforms that will be signed into law by Donald Trump are zero.
To be sure, the NRA still has to contend with public opinion. A new Quinnipiac poll, for example, released yesterday, found that 94% of Americans – including 93% of Republicans and 92% of voters in gun-owning households – support requiring background checks for all gun purchases.
But the fact remains that the NRA’s Republican allies will simply ignore public attitudes on the subject – a fact the NRA’s members are no doubt aware of.
How, then, will the group keep its supporters engaged? By pointing to a different enemy: Democratic officials may not be in position to approve any national policies, but there are still liberals out there who, the NRA says in a new video, need to be defeated in a culture war:
“They use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again. And then they use their ex-president to endorse ‘the resistance.’
“All to make them march. Make them protest. Make them scream ‘racism’ and ‘sexism’ and ‘xenophobia’ and ‘homophobia.’ To smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding – until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.
“And when that happens, they’ll use it as an excuse for their outrage. The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.
“I’m the National Rifle Association of America. And I’m freedom’s safest place.”
It’s quite a worldview.
As Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum noted, the NRA has clearly evolved from being an organization interested in the rights of gun owners, and become “a purveyor of wholesale culture war zealotry.” This video is powerful evidence of this: NRA members aren’t told to worry about legislation; they’re told to direct their fears at “comedy shows” and liberals who “terrorize the law-abiding.”
At the root of NRA propaganda in recent years is an unhealthy dose of paranoia and cultural resentment, and the byproduct is bizarre videos like the one the group released this week.
Vox’s report added, “It’s not hard to figure out what the narrative is here. A liberal insurgency is destroying American society. The ‘only way’ to protect yourself from this surge in left-wing violence (a made-up threat, to be clear) is to donate to the NRA.”