Barr did take exception to my invoking the National Rifle Association when I observed that the organization has, for years, engaged in a relentlessly bellicose misinformation campaign designed confuse and scare gun owners.
Barr didn’t think the NRA, on whose board he serves, had anything to do with our discourse, which is like saying we’ll talk about lung cancer, but don’t mention cigarettes.
It’s an apt analogy given the poisonous conspiracy theories, lies and distortions spouted by NRA leaders and most especially Wayne LaPierre.
I offered the Rotarians a taste of LaPierre’s crazy talk:
Universal background checks, he has suggested, are part of a government plot to disarm gun owners.
In a 1995 fundraising letter, LaPierre said the Clinton administration had empowered police to “murder law abiding citizens.”
During last year’s presidential campaign, he claimed Obama’s inaction on guns during his first term was proof the president will “erase the Second Amendment” during his second term.
Then, right on cue, LaPierre amplified my point for me.
In a seriously delusional op-ed piece posted last week on the conservative Daily Caller web site, LaPierre, who is evidently clairvoyant, foretells of an apocalypse, one he baselessly suggests President Obama and his “media enablers” are conspiring to facilitate.
According to LaPierre, al-Qaida terrorists and Mexican drug lords are teaming up and will soon cross the Southern border to visit havoc on unarmed Americans; a “coming siege,” LaPierre ominously warns.
“We, the American people, clearly see the daunting forces we will undoubtedly face: terrorists, crime, drug gangs, the possibility of Euro-style debt riots, civil unrest or natural disaster,” prophesied LaPierre, whose real objective, of course, is to push gun sales. “It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival.”
Looters, “ran wild in south Brooklyn after (superstorm) Sandy,” LaPierre claimed. “If you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.”
Some burglaries were reported in south Brooklyn but, “… there were no murders, no rapes and no shootings,” said the NYPD’s Paul Browne.
“In the aftermath of Sandy, crime stayed at record lows,” added a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Fear-mongering aside, after years in public relations, I know you can not only manipulate emotions but deliver corresponding marketing messages through the media. And so does the NRA.
Sure enough, after conjuring up his fantastical doomsday scenario, LaPierre got around to soliciting money for his so-called “Stand and Fight” campaign.
“When the NRA spends money on political advertising, we have to raise those funds from you — $20, $50, $250, or $1,000 at a time. …We must reach out to the tens of millions of gun owners who are not yet NRA members.”
In fact, the NRA is not a “genuine grass roots organization,” as LaPierre insists. Its 2010 tax return showed that, of its $228 million in revenues, $71 million came from the gun manufacturers and related interests, a figure that’s sure to increase post-Newtown.
The gun industry, for which the NRA speaks, is desperately worried it could lose a lucrative chunk of its business if assault-style weapons are banned. Their profits, you see, trump public safety.
So LaPierre breathlessly predicts another Fort Apache, Alamo and Custer’s Last Stand all rolled into one, red meat for the black helicopter crowd, but ravings that tell rational Americans the NRA wants nothing to do with solving the gun violence epidemic.
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.