National Rifle Association—Embracing
Tea Partiers and Anti-Government Rhetoric—Meets in Charlotte, NC
Sarah Palin and
Glenn Beck Featured Speakers at NRA Convention
weekend, Tea Party advocates Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck will be featured
speakers at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention being held
in Charlotte, NC. Palin will be speaking Friday at the "NRA’s Celebration
of American Values Leadership Forum" while Beck will address the crowd
Saturday night at the "NRA's Celebration of American Values Freedom Experience."
According to the NRA’s website, attendees at both events will be "subject
to a magnetometer security check" for weapons.
is only the most public example of growing links between the NRA and the
Tea Party movement. The recently released Violence Policy Center (VPC)
Unlearned: The Gun Lobby and the Siren Song of Anti-Government Rhetoric
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 also
offers examples of how the NRA is once again embracing and validating
Josh Sugarmann, executive
director of the Violence Policy Center and author of the book NRA:
Money, Firepower & Fear, states, "With the election of Barack
Obama, the NRA has returned to the dangerous anti-government rhetoric
that defined it in the mid-1990s during the period leading up to the Oklahoma
City bombing. Speakers at the NRA’s convention fan the flames of pro-gun
paranoia and celebrate the myth of the modern-day 'citizen-soldier,' but
never accept responsibility for those who take these words literally and
carry out violent acts. It is only in the wake of horrific tragedy, like
the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, that they feel compelled to moderate
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."
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."
The Violence Policy Center is
a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury.
Follow the VPC on Twitter, Facebook,
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
VPC Press Office
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x110