NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre is likely to get denounced for his speech at CPAC today from his familiar critics, and most NRA members probably loved it. LaPierre’s speeches always get this kind of reaction.
There was, however, an interesting section where LaPierre focused his ire at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and not over anything related to guns and the Second Amendment. LaPierre was pretty clearly pointing to the FBI’s investigation of the president, his campaign and his close associates before and after Election Day 2016:
There is no stronger supporter of our law enforcement than the National Rifle Association. My gosh, we’re one of the largest law enforcement organizations in the United States if you look at our membership. And we’re proud of that. Everywhere I go, I get a police officer coming up to me thanking me and saying, I’m a member of your organization. Keep up what you’re doing. And there are tens of thousands of incredible men and women at the FBI. These are honorable decent hard-working people and they’re dedicated to keeping our country safe every single day. And we’re proud of them, and we thank them.
But as we’ve learned in recent months, even the FBI is not free of its own corruption, and its own unethical agents. Look, and I know you probably all share this sentiment, and I get people telling me from coast to coast, and they kind of shake their heads when they say it to me. I can understand a few bad apples at an organization as large as the FBI. But what is hard to understand is why nobody at the FBI stood up and called B.S. on its rogue leadership. (applause) I mean, really, where was the systemic resistance and repulsion that should protect every powerful institution that serves us? The lowest ranking Marine knows to resist an unlawful order. The rank and file in every powerful institution must police its own leadership.
This morning, the President tweeted, “I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks!”
The NRA has already said they’re amenable to a ban on bump stocks. But they’re opposed to raising the age for gun purchases.
NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said in a statement Wednesday, “passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20-year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals.”
The NRA is wary at best of most proposals to broaden the definition of those who are barred from buying guns for mental problems: “A person cannot be federally disqualified from owning a gun based simply on a psychiatrist’s diagnosis, a doctor’s referral, or the opinion of a law enforcement officer, let alone based on getting a drug prescription or seeking mental health treatment. Doing so would actually discourage troubled people from getting the help they need.”
The NRA endorsed Donald Trump for president at its May 2016 convention, earlier than any other presidential candidate in the organization’s history. That endorsement represented something of a gamble by NRA’s leadership, considering Trump’s past vague expressions of support for the assault weapons ban and “a slightly longer waiting period” for gun purchases. So far, Trump had been a staunch ally on Second Amendment issues. But this morning, Trump demonstrated his first signs of support for gun control measures that the NRA opposes.
So if you want to win back a president who is wavering on your priorities, doesn’t it make sense to echo his argument that he’s a victim of an out-of-control witch hunt from a fundamentally-compromised federal law enforcement agency?