Yesterday, Public Policy Poll released numbers showing that the National Rifle Association's favorability had slipped into negative territory. It was close -- 42% positive vs. 45% negative -- but PPP reported that this represented a "10 point net decline in the NRA's favorability" compared to their numbers before NRA President Wayne LaPierre's disastrous press conference. You remember that press conference, the one where he revealed he's insane. The issue is dragging House Republicans' numbers down as well.
What the NRA desperately needs is to change their image from a collection of trigger-happy psychopaths with a gun fetish -- which is what they act like -- to an organization of levelheaded protectors of freedom -- which is what they pretend to be. The problem is that they apparently have absolutely no idea what the hell "levelheaded" looks like. As a result, they stage PR nightmares like this one yesterday, reported by NPR:
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband, Mark Kelly, have formed a political action committee to support prevention of gun violence. The announcement came Tuesday, the second anniversary of the mass shooting in Tucson that left six dead and wounded 13, including Giffords.
Churches and fire stations around the city rang bells in memory of the victims and in commemoration of other mass shootings since Tucson.
The Tucson Police Department also held a gun buyback Tuesday. Police want to destroy the 206 firearms turned in to them. But the National Rifle Association says that would violate Arizona law.
The buyback is funded not with city or state money, but with private funds. Sponsored by the grocery chain Safeway, people turning in guns receive a $50 gift card for the store. Police officers were needed merely to check the guns "to make sure they hadn't been stolen or used in a crime" and, I suppose, as gun safety experts to make sure the guns were empty and harmless.
Initially, I found it hard to imagine why the NRA would care about this -- the people turning in these guns clearly don't want them, so no one's "rights" were being abridged -- and why they decided this would be an excellent fight to pick, considering the nose dive the organization is in in terms of public opinion.
Then I remembered that the NRA is a trade group devoted to selling as many guns and as much ammo as possible. If those guns are sitting in someone's attic, no one makes money off them. If they're destroyed in a gun buyback, ditto. But if the government sells them, that's a different story. The buyers will want bullets. Ka-ching.
I can't stress enough that the NRA is not a gun rights organization, they're a gun sales organization. When Wayne LaPierre demanded in that press conference that the government put armed guards in every school in America, what he was really doing was demanding that the United States government buy a buttload of guns and ammo. At no time will the NRA ever suggest a policy that doesn't increase the sale of guns and/or ammunition. Concealed carry sells guns. "Stand your ground" laws sell guns and actually encourage shooting -- which sells ammo. When LaPierre said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," he wasn't making a logical argument so much as he was making a sales pitch. He was envisioning a nation where every gun is countered by a second gun -- i.e., a nation with twice as many firearms as there are now. And, since America is plagued with an insane amount of guns already, that would be a bonanza for arms merchants.
And that's why I refer to the NRA as the blood lobby. They don't care about public safety and they only care about people's rights when it serves to sell more guns and more ammunition. Why defend ownership of a 30-round clip no one in their right mind wants or needs? Because it takes thirty bullets to fill it, instead of six or eight. Duh.
But it looks like the gun sellers' amoral greed has finally gotten the best of them. Public opinion is in a tailspin and they're still pulling stupid maneuvers like suing over gun buybacks. They could possibly pull themselves out of this hole, but they're too busy digging for gold down there to find the time.