A screen capture from the home page of the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm taken Friday, March 1, 2013.
The National Rifle Association has more in common with the White House and Congress than you think.
Its switchboard has been overwhelmed since the Dec. 14 massacre at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School.
So much so that the organization’s lobbying arm recorded this very telling greeting for its callers:
“Your call is very important to us. We are currently experiencing extremely high call volumes due to the recent attacks on our second amendment rights. Please be sure you contact your lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to express your opposition to these latest anti-gun proposals.”
The lobbying arm of the NRA keeps a report card for federal and state law makers on their Second Amendment positions. The information is available to members only.
Hearst Newspapers this week requested the grades for several state legislators in Connecticut as part of a survey on gun control measures.
WASHINGTON — Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., has launched another chapter in his continuing diatribe against the National Rifle Association, issuing a report that he said shows “a disconnect” between gun owners and NRA leaders when it comes to gun violence.
In the aftermath of the Dec. 14 mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Murphy and other lawmakers have introduced legislation that would ban military-style assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines.
Murphy also supports universal background checks on would-be gun buyers to weed out individuals with criminal records, restraining orders or those who have been adjudicated mentally ill.
The NRA has taken an absolutist stance against any new restrictions, including the proposed expansion of background checks.
Murphy cited a January 2013 poll by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health that reported 74 percent of NRA members supported requiring a universal background-check system for all gun sales. The poll said 84 percent of all gun-owners supported such a system.
Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA, and Chris Cox, the group’s chief lobbyist, have continued to oppose universal background checks.
“The NRA’s leadership continues to demonstrate just how of step they are with the American public, their own membership and reality in general,’’ Murphy said.
Murphy’s latest attack on the NRA leadership is his third salvo against the nation’s premier gun owners’ organization with more than four million members.
Earlier, he taunted the NRA for financial support of losing political candidates in the 2012 election. Another report documented the support that the group receives from the firearms industry. Both studies relied on research by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group.
The NRA’s new ad, released today, attacks President Obama as an “elitist hypocrite” and even brings his daughters in the debate.
And it’s sure to fire up both sides on a day when the White House is expected to release its agenda on gun control; but even some GOP strategists say the organization’s aim is way off the mark in this one, and criticizing it as a questionable strategy.
And the White House — in a response just released according to AP — calls the spot “repugnant and cowardly.”
Take a look:
“Are the president’s kids more important than yours?” the ad asks. “Then why is he skeptical about putting armed guards in our schools..when his kids are protected by armed guards in their schools?”
With a photo that includes California U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ad closes on the announcer saying of Obama:
“He’s just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security,” it says. “Protections for THEIR kids, and gun free zones for ours.”
Washington DC-based GOP strategist Kim Alfano, speaking on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown” today, slammed the ad as a bad strategy and bad messaging.
“I can’t believe” the NRA took that approach, she told host Chuck Todd.
What’s the reaction here? Too much — and over the top?
Or NRA bulls eye?
It was an embarrassing moment for the NRA, which for the first time delivered a public response to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut which killed 20 children and six adults a week ago.
San Francisco-based Benjamin and fellow Code Pinker Tighe Barry not only managed to get through the tight security at the event, but brought in banners declaring “NRA, blood is on your hands” and “NRA, Stop Killing Our Kids.”
Benjamin, reached moments ago, that she was truly interested in LaPierre’s remarks, hoping he would offer some solutions to gun violence.
“We wanted to listen to what they were saying…but we were so appalled by what came out of their mouths,” she said. “Instead of expressing contrition and the feeling that something must be done, they did just the opposite, calling for more guns.
LaPierre, in his remarks, blamed movies, video games and music for troubles in a violent culture.
He suggested the only viable response was more guns.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said. “With all the money in the federal budget can’t we afford to put a police officer in every single school?”
Security was tight at the D.C. event, and the gun organization demanded reporters submit company letterhead requests for credentials to get to the press conference.
Benjamin — who has staged high profile disruptions of events by political luminaries including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld — was asked how her group managed to get a seat inside the event.
“That’s part of our secret we don’t reveal,” she laughed.
She and Barry were “dragged out,” but not arrested. Still, Benjamin said she believed the act was necessary in the wake of the Newtown shootings.
“My God, calling for schools to have armed guards…they are so out of touch,” she said of the NRA.
Her message to the organization: “You’re out of tune with where the American people are. We’re really just at our wits end.”
Benjamin praised U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s effort to reintroduce the assault weapons ban, and said that on Thursday, she protested in Nevada U.S. Senator Harry Reid’s office in an effort to push for his support.
“We are pushing to make sure this moment does not slip away like it had with other terrible tragedies,” she said.
“The message is really clear and simple: as a lobby, the NRA is killing our kids by supporting gun violence,” said fellow Code Pinker Rae Abileah. “The bigger message is for our government: Congress has to get out of bed with the biggest, baddest lobby in the United States.”
As President Obama continues to lay the groundwork for whatever gun control proposals he wants to launch through Congress, here’s what he’s up against: half of the current House members have received a campaign contribution from the National Rifle Association; 47 percent of the 435 members got some cash during the 2012 campaign.
Over in the Senate 42 of its occupants got an NRA contribution during the 2012 cycle; half of the current senators have received one at some point during their careers, according to the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation. Plenty more where that came from as the NRA. It has 4 million members and an annual budget of $200 miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllion.
One California Democrat who recently felt the power of the NRA — or rather, the lack of it — was conservative Central Valley Democratic Rep. Joe Baca, a longtime gun rights supporter, who recently lost his seat. He was targeted by anti-gun NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose super PAC spent $3.3 million on defeating Baca, one of several pro-gun legislators the mayor focused on ousting.
In the aftermath of the tragic Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., most Americans say they want a serious debate on gun control.
The president and supporters of gun legislation have complied, either with proposals (on Capitol Hill) or non-specific pleas for action (from the White House). However, another key player is staying mum.
The National Rifle Association, universally known as the NRA, has stayed silent ever since the news of Friday’s school slaughter broke.
According to BuzzFeed, this is not the first time the organization has chosen to remain silent on social media after a mass shooting. In July, following the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, the NRA did not tweet for 10 days. Twelve people were killed in Aurora.
Following two other, more recent mass shootings with lower counts of fatalities, the NRA refrained from tweeting for one day. The shootings in question were Aug. 5 shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, with seven people dead, and Dec. 11 shooting at Clackamas Town Center in Oregon with three people dead.
Furthermore, to prevent a flood of comments posted on its Facebook page, the NRA has taken it down just days after reaching 1.7 million likes on Dec. 13., reported Slate.
While gun control supporters have saturated the airwaves since the weekend, NRA allies have kept a low profile. Several prominent gun rights advocates, including Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, canceled scheduled television appearances in the days after the shooting. (Hutchison cited laryngitis as the reason for begging off an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation.)
Among the Second Amendment activists who have taken to TV are Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, who has urged caution when tackling legislative changes, and Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, who suggested that teachers and school administrators be empowered to possess weapons on campus.
Late this afternoon, the NRA issued this “important statement” to the media:
The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown.
Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.
The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.
The NRA is planning to hold a major news conference in the Washington, DC area on Friday, December 21.
Details will be released to the media at the appropriate time.