The NRA Opens Fire

In case you were waiting for the National Rifle Association's reasonable, constructive contribution to our current debate on how best to curb gun violence in America, your wait is over. They are locked, loaded, and ready to bring the crazy. This is an ad they put out yesterday, calling President Obama an "elitist hypocrite." Take a gander:

What an elitist, that Barack Obama, thinking he's somehow above ordinary people, like he has some particularly critical job or something, and he and his family might be unique targets for violence requiring special protection! It's almost like he thinks he's the president!

This does actually reveal an important aspect of the NRA's world view. As far as they're concerned, all of us should act as though we exist in the same security situation as the president of the United States. You may think you're just the assistant regional manager of a widget company, but in fact, a terrorist commando strike force could be coming to lay siege to your home at any moment. Which is why you need to be prepared not just with a gun, but with enough weaponry to hold your own in the two-hour firefight that's just inevitable.

I think what this ad shows, beyond the obvious conclusion that the NRA leadership is a bunch of crazy people, is that persuasion isn't part of their strategy. They know that they're facing the greatest threat they have in years, and they've concluded that the way to win this conflict over whether gun laws will be changed is to rile up their base. They want their most fervent supporters as paranoid and angry as possible, to get them to write letters and call their members of Congress to keep them in line. And it just might work.

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