The National Rifle Association has disavowed its recent criticism of pro-gun demonstrations in Texas. In an interview on Tuesday with the organization's own news site, the head of the NRA's lobbying arm blamed a staff member's "personal opinion" for the content of an unsigned statement published Friday on the organization's website, and he apologized for "any confusion" the statement may have caused.
It's been about four decades since Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal introduced us to an unfortunate catchphrase: "Love means never having to say you're sorry." More recently, I've always thought it was better applied to the National Rifle Association, which never has to say it's sorry, either.
No matter how extreme the far-right group gets, no matter who it offends, no matter the consequences of its policy purism, the NRA just doesn't apologize for anything, ever.
Once in a great while, however, there are exceptions.
For those just joining this story, a variety of gun enthusiasts, most notably members of a group called Open Carry Texas, have carried assault rifles into assorted restaurants and retail outlets, basically because the law allows it.
This led the NRA's lobbying arm, the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, to issue a lengthy statement, urging activists to stop doing this. The organization made the case that "public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one's cause" can be "downright scary" to members of the public. The far-right group added that a recent incident at a Chili's restaurant was "downright weird" -- and the NRA wasn't referring to the manager's request that the gun-toting patrons leave the premises.
It was a rare, welcome sight for the American mainstream -- the NRA agreeing with the public and endorsing a position in line with common sense.
Right-wing activists were outraged by what they saw as a terrible betrayal, and it wasn't long before the NRA apologized for its sensible position.
"Ultimately, what this comes down to is a tactics discussion," Cox told NRA News. "Some people believe that the best way to effectuate that sort of policy change is in protest. And what they did in Texas is, some people decided to protest the absurdity of the ban on ... open carry of handguns by carrying their long guns openly, and legally.
"Now, the truth is, an alert went out that referred to this type of behavior as weird, or somehow not normal. And that was a mistake. It shouldn't have happened. I've had a discussion with the staffer who wrote that piece, and expressed his personal opinion. Our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners."