After four days of deafening silence, the nation’s biggest gun lobby, the NRA, released a statement late yesterday regarding the massacre of 20 children and 7 women at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut saying “we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders.” The NRA explained its silence saying they were allowing “time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.” The influential organization has announced a press conference for this Friday.
In fact the NRA’s Twitter feed went silent on Friday one day after reporting 1.7 million “likes” on their Facebook page. That Facebook page that was pulled from the web entirely and has been apparently replaced by a new page.
Historically silence in the wake of a high profile shooting has been standard practice for the NRA, which has generally waited out the controversy before delaying any new gun control legislation and trying to dismantle it in the process.
This behavior follows a philosophy laid-out in the 1970s when a radical group of gun rights advocates staged a coup and seized control of the NRA. An organization that once supported strict and responsible gun control was mutated into the behemoth lobbyist organization of today, devoted to the slaughter of any and all gun-control legislation.
Today the NRA is facing its biggest public relations challenge in the wake of the massacre, targeted harshly for its extreme gun policies by dozens of newspaper op-eds and statements by elected officials, TV commentators, and social media users. Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Warner of Virginia, both conservative Democrats and staunch gun-rights advocates, have declared a change of heart. “Never before have we seen our babies slaughtered,” Manchin said on Monday morning, “I don’t know anyone that needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting.”
Meanwhile, gun control advocates have been filling the NRA’s silence this week, calling for increased firearm regulation in the wake of the Newtown massacre. But, as Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, writes: “If President Obama is serious about meaningful action, he better act now. In several months, the sad truth is that people will have forgotten the victims of Friday’s tragedy.”
GUEST: Adam Winkler, Constitutional Law Professor at UCLA, author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America