NRA Once Again Embracing Anti-Government Rhetoric

For Release: Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Study Details Links Between NRA Election Volunteer Coordinators and Tea Party Movement 

Washington, D.C.–Fifteen years ago former National Rifle Association (NRA) member Timothy McVeigh–motivated by his fear and hatred of the federal government–bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Today, the NRA and other members of the gun lobby are again embracing and validating anti-government rhetoric according to the new 21-page Violence Policy Center (VPC) study Lessons Unlearned: The Gun Lobby and the Siren Song of Anti-Government Rhetoric.

The study offers examples of the NRA’s anti-government language, details NRA marketing to Tea Party supporters, and reveals links in nine states between NRA State Election Volunteer Coordinators, the Tea Party movement, and other factions of the “Patriot movement.”

The study’s release comes four days before the pro-gun “Second Amendment March” in Washington, D.C. The April 19th event, held on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing and the federal government’s siege at Waco that contributed to McVeigh’s anti-government anger, has been publicized by the NRA and received financial support from the organization.

The study finds that, echoing the language of the resurgent Patriot movement, the NRA routinely presents the election of Barack Obama as a virtually apocalyptic threat not only to gun ownership, but to the future of the United States itself.

In a December 2009 direct-mail letter echoing the language of both the Tea Party movement and the Oath Keepers, the NRA urges the reader to join an “army whose highest allegiance is not to any individual or any political party but only to the cause of freedom.”

In the letter, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre–who speaking at the 2009 CPAC convention told cheering attendees that “our Founding Fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules”–warns of “…massive armies of anti-gun, anti-freedom radicals marshaling against us for an attack that could make every other battle we’ve ever fought look like a walk in the park…an attack aimed at completely rewriting our nation’s values and the future of our country in ways that you and I won’t even recognize.”

In the first four months of 2009, the NRA’s flagship activist magazine, America’s 1st Freedom, profiled key members of the Obama administration, likening them to a “‘who’s who’ of gun-ban advocates.”

  • A January 2009 article entitled “Beware the Rahm” asked,“Will Rahm Emanuel be able to stab a knife into the Constitution and scream that the Second Amendment is ‘Dead! Dead! Dead!’?
  • A February 2009 NRA profile of Attorney General Eric Holder attacked his record under “the infamous Janet Reno,” the Clinton Administration attorney general who is widely blamed in pro-gun circles for the Waco stand-off.
  • A March 2009 cover proclaimed, “The Whole World is Watching—Hillary Clinton Takes the Reins: Will the new secretary of state defend the U.S. constitution, or will she invite the global gun-ban movement into the corridors of power?”
  • An April 2009 cover featured Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with the headline: “What would this man teach your kids? Anti-gun extremist Arne Duncan takes over as Secretary of Education.”

The organization now also markets NRA clothing products emblazoned with the Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, which has become the symbol of the Tea Party movement. The description for the NRA Gadsden tee shirt reads: “What goes around comes around. In the late 18th century, oppressed American patriots voiced their defiance of tyranny by exclaiming, ‘Don’t Tread on Me!’ Perhaps it’s time once again for Freedom-loving citizens to rally ’round the legendary slogan of the famous Gadsden flag.”

The VPC study states that “the NRA incites its members and others, offering words that outside of the purported protective bubble of direct-mail and official publications would be chilling.” It cites an August 2008 NRA direct-mail letter warning of the threat posed by a possible Obama administration: “Our Constitution and our system of government guarantee that every American has the opportunity to write his or her name in the history books of tomorrow–to leave his or her imprint on the fabric of our nation. But in the end, history is always written only by a select few–the few who sacrifice of themselves to fight for the causes in which they believe.”

The study concludes, “Such language offers benediction to the most violent of acts…Based on past history, the overriding concern should be that the NRA’s words may, in fact, once again be revealed as violent prophecy.”



About the Violence Policy Center
The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

Media Contact:
Georgia Seltzer
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