NRA’s Wayne LaPierre is, by all accounts, a larger than life figure…well, at least that’s what his PR bio says so it must be true. After all, there would be no reason for the face of the NRA to be intentionally deceitful. Yet, time and time again that is just what we see from Wayne LaPierre…lies, distortions, deceit, obfuscation, and contradiction.
But maybe it is just the inability to think or act under pressure that makes Mr. LaPierre such a symbol of ethics-free behavior. Yesterday he had an opportunity to set things straight, to come clearly prepared to take on the U.S. Senate and lay out his case. And the opportunity slipped through his trigger fingers. He looked, yet again, like a heavyweight fighter well past his prime, with his opponents aware of his every move, riding the ropes. He could hear the theme from Rocky playing in his own head…but he couldn’t land the punches.
Yesterday started out well enough. He got up, dressed, met his bodyguards and headed to the Capitol. Now, you might ask yourself why, after making a big deal about President Obama sending his children to school with Secret Service protection, that he – a man who in rhetoric and principle says that a person should be able to stand on his own – would have guards to protect him. He whines about New York Mayor Bloomberg having guards…does he somehow feel he is more deserving? Under more threat? It is a contradiction of character.
As soon as Mr. LaPierre got to the Capitol the disintegration of his planned bullying began to fall apart. First, his bodyguards came off the Senate elevator and began pushing journalists aside, body-checking them and pushing them against the wall. It was then that Mr. LaPierre had the opportunity to understand two things clearly: his Second Amendment does not trump the First Amendment…the journalists are there for a reason, to get everyone’s side of the story on record. Second, he learned that in the U.S. Capitol he has to play by congressional procedures…their house, their rules. And that meant no bullying by Team NRA.
When Mr. LaPierre got into the Senate hearing he got his first of many surprises. With the first speakers he would be on the defensive, the all important fight for image as Gabby Giffords made the first statement…a simple 13 sentence statement – 73 words:
“Thank you for inviting me here today. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats, and Republicans.
“Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important.
“Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying – too many children. We must do something.
“It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be Courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you.”
Then her husband, Astronaut and Navy Captain Mark Kelly began. His statement was powerful but the body shot to Mr. LaPierre came when Captain Kelly interrupted his own statement to announce to those in attendance that yet another workplace shooting was occurring in Phoenix as they spoke.
After these two opening shots, and a couple of more speakers, it was Wayne LaPierre’s turn. He began with lies, contradictions, and obfuscation in his prepared remarks, which were covered by Addicting Info earlier.
“We need to enforce the thousands of gun laws that are currently on the books. Prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms works. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a dramatic collapse in federal gun prosecutions in recent years. Overall in 2011, federal weapons prosecutions per capita were down 35 percent from their peak in the previous administration… And that’s unacceptable.” He added “out of more than 76,000 firearms purchases denied by the federal instant check system, only 62 were referred for prosecution and only 44 were actually prosecuted.”
Mr. La Pierre was apparently unaware that those kinds of facts could easily be verified…especially by powerful senators with a staff at the ready. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse was quick to point out:
“In 2012 more than 11,700 defendants were charged with federal gun crimes, a lot more than 62.”
A stammering Wayne LaPierre tried to return fire…
“So those – the 62, senator, statistic, was for Chicago alone.”
He had, as folks who know guns would say – a failure to fire.
When it was pointed out by Senator Patrick Leahy that his current testimony contradicted previous testimony of “no loopholes anywhere, for anyone” on closing gun-show and private party loopholes, he was asked:
“So does the NRA favor closing the ‘gun-show loophole’ that allows people to avoid background checks?”
“We do not” said Mr. LaPierre in direct contradiction of previous NRA positions.
But it was not over…fights go 15 rounds and next up was Senator Dick Durbin. Mr. LaPierre began his objections to background checks:
“My problem with background checks is you’re never going to get criminals to go through universal background checks.”
Senator Durbin pointed out, very firmly:
“Background checks would mean criminals won’t go to purchase the guns, because there will be a background check! We’ll stop them from the original purchase,” adding, “you missed that point completely!”
Mr. LaPierre didn’t miss the point; he chose to obfuscate it with illogical rhetoric.
Mr. LaPierre was now on the ropes, his lies and contradictions fully evident and on the record. His direct comparison with Gabby Giffords was a PR failure. His one last opportunity to connect, to score points, came as he was contrasting elites vs. the common man.
“If you’re in the elite, you get bodyguards, you get high-cap mags with semiautomatics protecting this whole Capitol. The titans of industry get the bodyguards.”
He then left the Senate hearing with his retinue, his bodyguards. Maybe his day will get better as he faced Life Members who had paid $1,000 for a Life Membership; those memberships are now offered for $300 or a free one year membership. They have to jack up their membership numbers somehow…
McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.
You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.