Rock-star Ted Nugent has extravagant praise for National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s alleged patriotism. “LaPierre,” says Nugent, “resembles our forefathers who stood on Concord bridge and risked all to give birth to a truly free, independent America.”
Like other gullible pro-gun fanatics who believe LaPierre’s lying propaganda, Nugent is obviously ignorant of LaPierre’s draft-dodging during Vietnam. LaPierre would have been nowhere near Concord bridge in 1775. Nugent’s belief in LaPierre’s patriotism parallels the gullibility of pro-gun fanatics who believe LaPierre’s propaganda.
LaPierre has conducted a cynically successful campaign arguing that enforcement of existing laws would reduce gun violence. Left unmentioned is the NRA’s ferocious opposition to the Brady Act, which required gun dealers to check gun-purchasers’ backgrounds, barring sales to felons and mental patients. Only ultraconservatives would have the chutzpah to demand enforcement of laws they vehemently opposed.
Ignorance of this NRA hypocrisy is a minor aspect of the public’s ignorance of gun legislation. According to recent polls, nearly 60 percent falsely believe that background checks are required for gun-show sales. A majority erroneously believe that gun sales are barred to those on the terrorist watch list. LaPierre has intimidated Congress into rejecting this sane policy. Suspected terrorists are, after all, gun-industry customers.
In 1986, the NRA weakened 1968 federal gun legislation, which had been strengthened in reaction to the Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations. Congress allowed states to restore gun-owning rights, even to felons convicted of violent crimes. In Washington state 13 percent of felons and domestic-violence perpetrators who regained gun-owning rights subsequently committed new crimes, including murder.
Fulfilling his goal of expanding gun manufacturers’ profits, LaPierre has instilled paranoid fear in simple-minded gun owners by charging the Obama administration with the goal of universal gun confiscation. Huge waves of gun purchases followed this baseless propaganda about a president whose first-term gun-legislative action was limited to expanding gun-carrying rights to the national parks.
Like Congressman Paul Ryan’s phony opposition to federal stimulus spending, except when he is the beneficiary, LaPierre’s opposition to background checks is contradicted in the NRA’s proposal for arming school employees. Volunteers would be required to undergo background checks, which LaPierre elsewhere argues are useless. Moreover, in 1999, before a House Judiciary subcommittee, Pierre testified that it “was reasonable to provide instant background checks for every gun sale at every gun show.”
Still more hypocritical is LaPierre’s approval for gun bans at quadrennial Republican National Conventions and perpetually for Congress. The NRA wants guns everywhere — except, of course, where its favored politicians would be at risk.
• C.W. (Bill) Griffin is a retired consulting engineer. He has lived in Ahwatukee Foothills for 22 years.