With AR-15s in the news because of [insert this week’s horribly depressing reason here], there’s a chance you might be feeling rather peeved at the organization making sure guns are plentiful and easy to purchase in America, the National Rifle Association. But regardless of your politics, you’ve got to give the NRA some credit for their skill at hiding horrifying stories that would kill any other organization. Their feats range from preventing any real attempts at studying firearm violence to, well …

6

Campaigning To Re-Legalize Silencers Because Of “Hearing Safety”

As we’ve covered, silencers don’t exactly turn your gun into the ultimate stealth weapon, but they do still make a considerable difference. It’s less “jet engine” and more “loud pop,” followed by a screaming sack of potatoes hitting the floor if your aim is slightly off.

It’s for this reason that silencers are incredibly difficult to obtain, and are only available to gun owners after they have their details entered into a federal database, pay a $200 transfer fee, and endure a waiting period of up to infinity. Naturally, the NRA doesn’t like that one bit, and in 2017, they came up with a strategy for scrapping those regulations: reframing the entire debate as one not one of “continuing to live” safety, but one of hearing safety.

The new argument is that silencers could help prevent hearing loss amongst gun owners, which’d be a fair point if A) ear protection hadn’t existed since forever, and B) gun users were forced into taking up a hobby that involves explosive powder. This complaint formed the basis of two NRA-lobbied bills that would have made silencers much easier to purchase in any state where they aren’t outright banned. There was also a completely unrelated bill about hunting and fishing on federal lands, because trying to sneak provisions into law is just good safety, and not an indication of how morally bankrupt our political system is.

US CongressThey even paid their top minds millions of dollars to come up with the punniest possible title.

The dumbest part is that experts still recommend wearing ear protection if your weapon is suppressed. These bills are aimed at hunters and sportsmen, who would be at an even greater risk of having their hearing damaged because, get this, repetitive mid-volume noises will screw you up as much as occasional earth-shattering noises. Not only this, but isn’t the NRA supposed to, like, be against making it easier for criminals to shoot people? That’s their whole schtick. How are the GGWG (good guys with guns) supposed to play hero when they’re confusing a war zone with a backfiring engine? And wouldn’t mass shooters have even more victims if fewer people heard them coming? This Virginia Tech survivor sure thinks so.

Good news: In the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history, the NRA stopped campaigning for this issue and turned their attention towards banning bump stocks, a change of course which lasted nearly an entire news cycle.

5

Promoting Dumbass (And Dangerous) Conspiracy Theories

It turns out your dreaded relative who won’t shut up about how every tragedy ever is manufactured by shady cabals of (possibly half-lizard) people is not schizophrenic after all. He might simply be parroting the sort of nutty paranoia pushed by the NRA.

Once you cut out the fluff about patriotism and the founding fathers, most of what the NRA has to say about any given subject can be summed up as “They’re coming to take your guns.” The JFK and MLK assassinations? They were probably trial balloons intended to bring about the end of guns, according to a senior leader of the organization.

MacFarlane PressAdd some poor capitalization and #MAGAs, and this is your average Twitter account.

Waco and Ruby Ridge? Oh boy, those were the actions of a jackbooted government so determined to eliminate private firearms ownership that they’ll “break down [doors], open fire with an automatic weapon, and kill or maim law-abiding citizens.” When it was brought to the NRA’s attention that their inflammatory rhetoric might be contributing to the growing number of right-wing militia groups sprouting up across the country, and maybe even motivated Timothy McVeigh into bombing a federal building, Executive VP Wayne LaPierre argued that actually, it was the fault of Bill Clinton for even daring to talk about gun control in the first place.

Department of DefenseYeah, this seems like an appropriate response to extended background checks.

Speaking of Clintons, what about Hillary? She believes you don’t have the right to own a gun for self-defense, according to a dramatic attack ad they released …

… even though in reality, Clinton’s position on guns isn’t terribly different from George W. Bush’s (“Respect the Second Amendment but regulate it”).

The United Nations? They’re a bunch of dictators who claim to want to regulate international arms dealing, but secretly want to usurp the Second Amendment with their fancy treaties and smelt your guns into support beams for their volcano base. And we don’t need to tell you how much they despised President Obama, even to the point of incoherence. As LaPierre commented at CPAC 2012, “We see [his] strategy crystal clear … get re-elected and, with no more elections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearms’ freedom.” And that’s why we live in an apocalyptic gun-free hellscape today.

4

Screwing With Police Investigations By Not Allowing A Database Of Firearm Owners

To hear the NRA out, they’re the only group looking out for law, order, and an eventual crime-free utopia of the sort you’ve only seen in movies. It’s too bad, then, that they’re so caught up in their persecution complex that they flat out refuse to allow law enforcement to do their damn jobs.

In the aftermath of a shooting, it’s important for the police to be able to link perpetrators to firearms (that’s the whole “evidence” part of the equation). So in a world in which you can do everything online, this probably takes a couple of minutes, right? Nope. The NRA has successfully lobbied against any and all attempts to build an electronic database of firearms owners, because letting Uncle Sam have such information would be like showing all your cards at a poker table (where you just murdered someone).

It’s dumb, and if it was only dumb, that’d be fine. Their lobbying efforts, however, have created a byzantine process that achieves nothing except provide detectives with another reason to turn to alcoholism. In the aftermath of a shooting, law enforcement sends a request for information about the firearm/perp to the National Tracing Center in West Virginia, where a team combs countless forms and records and microfilm for the information they need. All by hand. Because thanks to the NRA, a simple search function or a catalog would be breaking federal law.

US Government Accountability Office

US Government Accountability OfficeBig Brother is watching you … as slowly and inefficiently as possible.

Urgent traces for things like high-profile crimes get fast-tracked and turned around in a day, but non-urgent ones (like, say, if the victim has never been on the cover of People) can take up to a week, and are only successful 65 percent of the time. With an average of 1,500 traces per day, that’s thousands of crimes going unsolved.

It’s not a problem that’s going to get easier to solve over time, not until Wayne “Registration. Confiscation. Extinction” LaPierre hits his head on a wooden beam and concusses himself some perspective. As we buy more and more guns, the warehouse that holds these records is running out of room, because they’re made of paper, not pixels. The NTC recently won permission to start converting records into PDFs, but that’s going to take time. And they can’t be searchable by text, because the NRA is constantly monitoring and questioning their operations, presumably out of fear that the jackbooted old ladies who work there might start their indomitable campaign of genocide any day now.

3

Exploiting Hurricane Harvey To Sell Guns To People Afraid Of Looters

We apologize in advance, but it’s about time we introduced you to NRATV, the televisual wing of the NRA and the only thing that’s convinced us to buy into your crazy uncle’s conspiracy theories about antenna signals making people dumber. If you’ve ever wanted to watch melodramas about teenage girls coming to grips with who they are, married couples struggling to connect, and parents agonizing about bringing children up in a morally corrupted world, but all of these issues are solved with guns of course, we can’t recommend it enough.


All that and a healthy side dish of “Black protesters are coming to murder you.”

Alongside Dana “#ClenchedFist4Truth” Loesch, NRATV also broadcasts Stinchfield, a top-of-the-hour live news show. Unless, that is, there’s a natural disaster occurring, in which case it becomes a home shopping channel that uses human suffering as a backdrop to sell guns.

Whilst Hurricane Harvey was messin’ with Texas, Grant Stinchfield (host of Stinchfield, duh) bravely shied away from reporting, like, facts and stuff, and instead focused on drumming up panic in order to convince people that guns are an urgent necessity in the event of any natural disaster. After exaggerating the extent of looting incidents, for instance, he followed up with a report on how people were praising the “unfettered access to firearms” provided by the state’s gun laws, which gave them a defense against the “evildoers [that] take to the streets” in these situations. Yes, it seems regular folks in Texas talk like Stan Lee characters.

These people, Stinchfield insisted, were at ease — or as “at ease” as you can be when your possessions are being blown into the Gulf of Mexico — because they had shooty instruments to protect them from the mass lawlessness engulfing the city. Such anarchy was (as per usual) largely overblown by the right-wing media, which included everyone from people arrested for possession and breaking mandatory curfews amongst the numbers of reported looters. This might sound like a controversial stance to take, but news outlets probably shouldn’t be priming people to shoot anyone who even glances at their belongings during a time of crisis.

Look, it’s fine for a news channel owned by an organization funded by gun manufacturers (distributing programming funded by gun manufacturers, no less) to sell guns. We get it. Gotta pay the bills. We just ask that you don’t use human misery as a prop.


Even if it’s a strategy that has worked for other home shopping channels so far.

2

Endorsing The Work Of The World’s Hackiest Researcher

Science is hard. There’s all that thinking, all that researching, and how it doesn’t work if you’re lobbying against common sense and reality. The NRA, however, has found a solution to this pesky issue in the form of John Lott, a “scientist” whose scientific rigor extends to a hearty shrug and making sure his wingnut welfare checks don’t bounce. He has authored countless pro-gun books, research papers, op-eds, and conference talks, making him a vital part of the NRA’s message and someone whom they can always rely on for information and statistics.

Too bad that the vast majority of his work is BS.

There’s that time he released a highly suspect paper, and when asked for the supporting data, he said he’d lost it in a hard drive crash and couldn’t fully recreate it. Points for not saying his dog ate it, we guess. Or there’s that time he stole the identity of a college student and used her story — of being stalked by a dangerous ex-boyfriend and being denied permission to own a gun by her college — as material for an op-ed without her knowledge or permission. Or the time he invented a fan called “Mary Rosh” to trash his critics and give himself rave reviews.

John Lott“We called him ‘John Hott,’ and definitely didn’t make fun of him within his earshot.”

His most notable work, More Guns, Less Crime, used decades of crime data to “prove” that the passage of conceal-carry laws causes a sharp decline in crime rates, which he attributes to criminals not wanting to risk your grandma being strapped. When other researchers looked at the data that Lott had used to draw this conclusion, however, they found that he hadn’t factored in the crack epidemic, which caused a huge country-wide spike in violent crimes. The spike dropped, because that’s how spikes work, but Lott still attributed the change to his darling guns. Despite this and other “convenient” omissions, this analysis is a favorite of the NRA, having been cited nearly 200 times in press releases and angry, angry speeches.

So, dear reader, before you leave a comment citing a statistic from Lott, consider the fact that you’re about to look very, very dumb. Especially if your name is, say, Lohn Jott.

1

Sabotaging A Deal Between Smith & Wesson And The Government To Make Guns Safer After Columbine

After the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, Smith & Wesson — one of the nation’s oldest and most well-known gun manufacturers — decided that it wouldn’t be the worst thing to work with the government to prevent the senseless slaughter of more children. After long negotiations (held at airport-side hotels for extra secrecy), S&W developed a whole bunch of measures that they could implement to make their products safer. These included a commitment to researching and developing “smart guns” that could be locked to a specific person, plans to install safety devices on all new handguns that could lock them when not in use, and other less sci-fi-sounding but equally interesting ideas.

With this, Smith & Wesson weren’t implementing “gun control.” They were doing what all good corporations should, holding themselves accountable and making sure that anyone who isn’t supposed to own or use their products can’t, y’know, own or use their products. As you’ve probably guessed, the NRA was having none of that.

NRAA more civilized time. Today this would be all in caps.

After the deal was announced, the NRA released a statement calling Smith & Wesson “the first gun maker to run up the white flag of surrender” and a “self-appointed arbiter of national gun policy” (presumably adding “That’s supposed to be us“). After framing the company as the Ultimate Enemy to Freedom and Liberty and Stuff, the NRA then released the phone number of S&W’s CEO, Eric Shultz, and told their members to make their voices heard. And so they did, via death threats, which forced Shultz and other executives to update their wardrobes to include more garments of the “bulletproof” variety.

Alongside that, the NRA organized a boycott that gutted the company’s sales, forced two factories to close (causing mass layoffs), and wiped out 95 percent of S&W’s value. Shultz and his executives were forced to resign their posts, and the only thing that saved the company from total ruin was, uh … the NRA. Or, to put it another way, the new CEO of S&W tearing up the agreement and kissing the NRA’s ring until they were forgiven for their unspeakable crime of believing that they were operating in a free market.

Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter about depressing history that you can subscribe to. It’s really good, honest.

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