UPDATE: Chris Cillizza of CNN takes a look at how and why the gun violence debate isn’t petering out in the same manner that it has after other high-profile mass shootings:
The reason for that is simple: Dozens of Stoneman Douglas students have become articulate and vocal spokespeople in support of future gun control legislation. These students are becoming household names as they rally in Tallahassee, and next month in Washington, to keep the national spotlight on the gun issue.
A cadre of young adults speaking out in the wake of watching their classmates be gunned down is a very powerful force that had not been mobilized in anything close to this manner before.
Firearm advocates are having a difficult time defending their positions in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida. High school students in Florida are organizing themselves, and inspiring others, to push their elected officials to enact stronger gun regulations. Diehard gun rights supporters such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and even President Trump are striking a different tone as a result.
This is all very distressing to folks at the National Rifle Association (NRA), who are not dealing well with the blowback. Here’s NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch speaking today at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC):
“Many in legacy media love mass shootings,” Loesch said after walking on stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference to a standing ovation. “I’m not saying you love the tragedy, but you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold.” [Pols emphasis]
Her comments echoed a video that NRATV released Wednesday, which slammed the mainstream media for being the “casting call for the next mass shooting.” Loesch also said she is debuting a one-hour show on NRATV next month to combat the mainstream media.
Loesch’s absurd comments were merely a warm-up act for NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre, who later delivered a speech that was heavy on the crazy. From NPR:
LaPierre defended Second Amendment rights and warned of a “socialist agenda” intended to strip firearms away from law-abiding citizens.
“As usual, the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain,” LaPierre said, adding that 20th century community organizer “Saul Alinsky would have been proud of the breakneck speed for gun control laws and the breathless national media eager to smear the NRA.”
LaPierre, who was not listed on CPAC’s official schedule, accused Democrats of making gun control a political issue in order to achieve their ultimate goal to “eradicate all individual freedoms.” [Pols emphasis]
“What they want are more restrictions on the law-abiding — think about that,” LaPierre said…
…”I hear a lot of quiet in this room, and I sense your anxiety,” LaPierre said, turning to the political consequences of the debate. “And you should be anxious, and you should be frightened. If they seize power, if these so-called ‘European socialists’ take over the House and the Senate, and God forbid they get the White House again, our Americans freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever.” [Pols emphasis]
We wouldn’t blame anyone for being outraged at the commentary from Loesch and LaPierre today, but our first reaction here was a little different: The NRA is going completely off the rails.
When Loesch says that “crying white mothers are ratings gold,” and LaPierre says Democrats “want to eradicate all individual freedoms,” they are ignoring all rational-minded observers and appealing instead to the sort of people who believe that mass shootings are elaborate staged conspiracies instead of very real tragedies that are a uniquely-American problem. This absurdist anger speaks directly to the NRA’s particular choir but demonstrates to everyone else that groups like theirs are indeed the caricatures of gun-hoarding, fear-mongering lunatics that critics have long alleged.
The NRA does not typically embrace this kind of conspiratorial talk so whole-heartedly. That LaPierre and friends are so openly venting their fears and breaking away from prior restraints is a very clear indicator of just how quickly Americans are moving toward a real approach of combating gun violence in 2018. Fear is truth.