After most of America’s high profile shootings, you can count on the NRA to immediately get their PR Offensive on — using tragic incidents to extend their lobbying for the gun manufacturers who call the tune over there now and to do even more fundraising. All of this is focused around pushing back on any common sense controls on weapons and advocating that more of us carry — so that everyday can be the OK Corral or some such. But for this — a cop shooting an unarmed kid over jaywalking — they’ve been pretty quiet. It is a surprise, because you’d think that they’d see the government tyranny that they keep insisting that people need guns for and would be out defending this community that is clearly pushing back against that tyranny. As Cliff Schecter points out in the Daily Beast:
The National Rifle Association has been warning us about the threat of a heavily-armed and dangerous government crushing dissent for decades. Their leader, Wayne LaPierre, even referred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as “jack-booted thugs.”
Their dystopian nightmare sounds exactly like what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri.
Yet somehow, the NRA seems to have missed the whole thing with the SWAT teams and the tank-like vehicles and the snipers and the LRAD sound cannon and the tear gas and the rubber bullets being trained on unarmed Americans. Not a peep from LaPierre on this extended assault on citizens of Ferguson, at least that I can find.
Right? The dystopian nightmare that they’ve been selling as a reason to be scared of your government is happening right now and these people can’t be bothered to defend this community. Wonder why?
Then there’s Cory Pein over at The Baffler, who asks the same question (making note that the other “defenders of freedom”, libertarians and teajhadis have been MIA from this conversation, too):
But libertarians aren’t the half of it. The most telling silence in recent days has come from that timid, mouselike, ever-genteel lobbying organization, the National Rifle Association. The NRA is bigger than libertarianism, bigger than the Tea Party, and indeed in some respects is more effective than the Republican Party itself, given the loyalty the NRA commands among diehard followers and the deference granted to it by politicians, even some who support gun control.
It was only five years ago that NRA chief Wayne LaPierre delivered a characteristically demented performance at CPAC, the national conservative conference, endorsing the so-called “insurrectionist” interpretation of the Second Amendment. This interpretation maintains that the fundamental purpose of civilian gun ownership is to enable citizens to protect themselves from their own government. “Only the Second Amendment breathes life into liberty,” LaPierre said to an adoring audience. And then:
Freedom is nothing but dust in the wind until it’s guarded by the blue steel and dried powder of a free and armed people. . . . It’s not politically correct, but I don’t care if their butts pucker from here to the Potomac: Our founding fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules.
LaPierre also claimed that the trend of rising gun sales amid historic recession demonstrates this hunger for freedom, security, and empowerment:
Americans all over this country are saying, “I will fight for my family, I will fight for my neighborhood and I will fight for my freedom from tyranny, from crime and from any threat in any form.”
At this year’s CPAC conference, LaPierre revisited those themes. “The NRA proudly stands for the America we all want. Where we can speak and gather as we choose,” he said.
One would think, given his views on freedom of assembly and the importance of democratized violence, that LaPierre would be shouting through a megaphone for the besieged citizens of Ferguson to powder their muskets and cry liberty! (For the record, I think that is a terrible idea. More guns will only make an already horrifying situation more dangerous and deadly. My point is that the images from Ferguson, so strikingly reminiscent of cities under armed occupation elsewhere around the world, would seem to present an ideal opportunity for grandstanding by Second Amendment absolutists.)
It’s why the NRA’s silence in the tear-gas wake of Ferguson, Mo., is so telling. The four-day police operation following the police shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown has essentially shut down the city of 21,000. The resulting images are a gun-obsessed paranoiac’s nightmare made flesh: Phalanxes of flak-jacketed police officers line the streets, firing tear gas and pointing assault weapons at unarmed citizens, often with tank-like police vehicles behind them. Dozens of people have been arrested, including journalists and municipal politicians, and a media camera crew had its camera forcibly turned off and its equipment torn down. The “jack-booted thugs” haven’t just stormed a private residence or seized a compound—they’ve taken over an entire city.
And yet, there hasn’t been a peep from the NRA about the incident. The Gun Owners of America, the NRA’s even more paranoid offshoot, mentions Missouri only to congratulate citizen gun owners there. Former congressman Ron Paul spends much of his time regaling his flock about big-government abuses when he isn’t giving away assault weapons or asking for money. He, too, has been mum. (A blog post on his website, not written by Paul, decries the “militarization of police,” but chides protestors for not remaining calm.)
This seemingly perfect spectacle for NRA outrage—the shooting of an unarmed man, cops with outsized weapons, mass arrests—is flawed for one reason: Michael Brown was African-American. As such, he doesn’t fit the profile of the typical NRA member and, apparently, doesn’t warrant the group’s paranoid rage it has displayed in the case of Randy Weaver, a known racist who was armed to the teeth at the time of the standoff. The NRA’s lack of rhetoric about Michael Brown, like Trayvon Martin before him, speaks volumes about the group’s other reigning paranoia, this one, race-based.
The NRA doesn’t give a damn about government tyranny until the government tries to make it harder for their constituency to sell more guns.