Yesterday, Josh Marshall posted an e-mail from a reader:
I'm a gun owner and a hunter who is otherwise on the far left end of the Democratic party spectrum. I grew up in Oklahoma, where hunting and a respect for gun culture were just a part of growing up. I understand and believe in the need to protect the rights of hunters, and I even understand the impulse of the libertarian right to protect private citizens' right to bear arms in a nation governed by an increasingly invasive security state. I also believe in legislation that would radically limit the clip sizes of semiautomatic weapons, and ban some assault rifles and handguns outright.I don't want to spend a lot of time on the question of whether liberals, Democrats, and gun-control advocates give gun owners good reason to feel disrespected. I think we do that some of the time. I also think it shouldn't be enough of a reason for gun owners to embrace the NRA's unswerving absolutism.
I know people on all sides of the gun control issue, and I'll tell you what a lot of liberals don't realize: there are a lot of gun owners (especially hunters) who agree with me. What precludes reasonable conversations from occurring, I think, is not only the monstrosity of the NRA, but also the tone-deaf proclamations issued in the wake of gun tragedies by urban liberals who do not understand rural gun culture.
Many moderate gun owners I know feel as if the mainstream of the Democratic party are out to wage a war against hunters and responsible gun owners. They view gun control advocates as classist, regionalist snobs....
But I want to point out that the NRA nurtures and encourages this sense of being disrespected -- disrespected, specifically, by a vast urbane conspiracy of celebrities, media elitists, inner-city criminals, and so on.
I want to show you a clip Steven D. of Booman Tribune posted after Jovan Belcher shot Kasandra Perkins. The clip shows the NRA's Wayne LaPierre responding to Bob Costas's pro-gun-control comments on an NFL broadcast just after that shooting.
This was one of many times when gun advocates said that Perkins could have saved herself if she'd had access to a gun (in fact, she had plenty of guns in the house) -- but more striking to me is the way LaPierre turns this into a war against a Glenn Beck-style array of foes arrayed against the best interests of freedom-loving heartlanders: big-city media types, celebrities with bodyguards, suicide-prone nations that are mostly old Cold War enemies, and -- repeatedly -- violent, gang-prone Chicago.
What does any of this have to do with the Jovan Belcher shooting? Your guess is as good as mine. But the point is that LaPierre's way of capitalizing on that shooting was to say: This evil array of global sophisticates wants your guns, freedom-loving heartlanders!
And that really might be the message that sustains the power of the NRA.
Here's the clip, followed by some transcripts of what LaPierre said.
I think the American public has had their fill of what happened last night from the media, the media conglomerates, from celebrities in this country trying to ram their agenda down their throat. I mean, the fact is, they only care about anything when it involves a celebrity.Hardly any of this was about Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins. It is about Us Versus Them. As long as enough people find this narrative compelling, the NRA wins.
... Here's the deal: Bob Costas doesn't care about the crime that goes on in Chicago, and the murders that go on day after day after day. He doesn't talk about that.
... You look at the suicide rates in other countries, I mean, my gosh, the U.S. is not even in the top quarter of the world on suicide. Most of the countries which have gun bans, like China, Russia, South Korea, Cuba, all these countries lead the U.S. in suicides.
... But Bob Costas -- again, I mean, they have no idea what's going on in the real world. I live in the real world. People call me every day and say, "Wayne, I probably wouldn't be alive today if I didn't have a firearm to protect myself from this criminal." Women call me and say, "Wayne, you know, I was driving the Texas roads late at night, and thank God I had a carry permit, because two thugs tried to drive my car off the road, and they come at me with a tire iron, and I think I would have been raped and murdered if I didn't have my gun, and pull it out and say, 'Get the heck out of here.'"
I mean, average people that are not celebrities, that don't live with bodyguards, security systems, that aren't rich and famous to the point where they get their permits in these big cities while the average people are denied it, they understand better than anybody that a firearm and the Second Amendment makes them safer.
... This is just typical of what you get out of the big media conglomerates in this country. I mean, how many times over the last twenty years have I gone into the boardrooms of Newsweek up in New York City, have I gone into these networks, and the all go, "Wayne, you're out of touch. The NRA's out of touch." And I go, "I'm not out of touch. You guys are out of touch...."
We need to start going in and whether -- take these violent criminals that are committing crime in general off of the streets. And that's not what's being done. Bob Costas wasn't talking about that last night. He wasn't talking about, with these murders in Chicago, out of 90 jurisdictions in the country, Chicago is 89th in terms of enforcing the federal gun laws against the violent gangs that are killing people. Nope, nothing about that at all. And I'll tell you this, I mean, there is nothing about a violent gang in Chicago committing a crime with or without a firearm that leads to disarming all the law-abiding people in Chicago. And that's the type of nonsense Bob Costas was spouting last night.