Isabella Santorum, a three-year-old who suffers from a fatal chromosomal disorder, is now an National Rifle Association member for life. Both of her parents, one of whom is former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, also have life memberships.
Despite suspending his campaign for the Republican nomination last week, Santorum delivered remarks to the NRA convention crowd last Friday, and in the same speech that he said Second Amendment rights must "not [be] hidden, but showcased [because] of how important these rights are and have to be protected," Santorum made the announcement about Bella's membership:
“Karen and I are life members of the NRA, and we wanted to announce today that … now Bella is a life member of the NRA too,” Santorum said. “I hope it is a long life.”
A life membership to the NRA is $1,000, while a junior life membership is $550. Life membership includes a choice of a pro-gun magazine subscription, "24/7 defense of your Second Amendment freedoms" (what does that entail?), and $10,000 of Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage for accidents that occur at, going to or coming from NRA events and those that occur while using firearms to hunt.
The NRA has been the target of criticism from all sides of the debate on gun control for decades. Gun control groups and several major newspapers, including the New York Times, have condemned the NRA for the policies they promote -- while gun rights organizations, such as Gun Owners of America, have criticized the NRA for not working hard enough to ease existing restrictions on gun owners.
In 1995, the NRA made headlines when President George H.W. Bush resigned his life membership to the NRA after the organization made statements about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms being “jackbooted thugs” who harass gun owners. And most recently, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre spoke up at the convention about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, criticizing the media for making it such a big deal:
“In the aftermath of one of Florida’s many daily tragedies, my phone has been ringing off the hook," [LaPierre said] at the group’s annual gathering. Mr. LaPierre criticized news organizations for singling out one killing and ignoring many other violent crimes that happen in the United States every day. “You manufacture controversy for ratings,” he added. “You don’t care about the truth, and the truth is the national news media in this country is a national disgrace, and you all know it.”
Perhaps LaPierre can help point out all of the many other gun-related deaths that he claims are being ignored, in Florida or otherwise.;
Postscript: Melissa and her panel discussed gun rights on Saturday’s show in the context of the Trayvon case. Watch the discussion after the jump.