The Madness of the NRA

The American Right has fabricated a false narrative about the Second Amendment to justify the ongoing slaughter of children and thousands of other civilians across the United States. But the NRA’s pro-gun arguments sometimes even go beyond satire, as Bill Moyers and Michael Winship explain.

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

We wrote and spoke about guns just a few days before Christmas, following the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. So did Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association. His now infamous, “no questions” press conference was the most stunning, cockeyed, one-man show since Clint Eastwood addressed that empty chair at the Republican National Convention. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he pronounced.

LaPierre might well have plagiarized his vision of a wholly armed nation from another “man of the people” of 40 years ago, the protagonist in the famous sit-com “All in the Family.” On a 1972 episode, when a local TV station comes out in favor of gun control, Archie Bunker hits the airwaves with an editorial rebuttal:

Archie Bunker: “Good evening, everybody. This here is Archie Bunker of 704 Hauser Street, veteran of the big war, speaking on behalf of guns for everybody. Now, question: what was the first thing that the Communists done when they took over Russia? Answer: gun control. And there’s a lot of people in this country want to do the same thing to us here in a kind of conspiracy, see. You take your big international bankers, they want to – whaddya call – masticate the people of this here nation like puppets on the wing, and then when they get their guns, turn us over to the Commies…

“Now I want to talk about another thing that’s on everybody’s minds today, and that’s your stick-ups and your skyjackings, and which, if that were up to me, I could end the skyjackings tomorrow. All you gotta do is arm all your passengers. He ain’t got no more moral superiority there, and he ain’t gonna dare to pull out no rod. And then your airlines, they wouldn’t have to search the passengers on the ground no more, they just pass out the pistols at the beginning of the trip, and they just pick them up at the end! Case closed.”

Case closed.  Except that Archie Bunker’s a fictional character, created by Norman Lear, who knew better. Not Wayne LaPierre — he’s real and he means business. Big business.

Every time we have another of these mass slayings and speak of gun control, weapon sales go up. And guess what? As journalist Lee Fang reports in The Nation magazine, “For every gun or package of ammunition sold at participating stores, a dollar is donated to the NRA.”

Customers can make a contribution at the point of purchase or the gun companies make an automatic donation every time the cash register rings. Last year, just one of those merchants of death, Midway USA, used one of these NRA programs to give the gun lobby a million dollars.

So naturally, in a country where even life and death are measured by the profit margin, the cure for gun violence is, yes, more guns! Bigger profits.

Never mind that just before La Pierre spoke, three were shot and killed outside Altoona, Pennsylvania. Or that early on Christmas Eve morning, in Webster, New York, two volunteer firemen were called to the scene of a fire, then executed by an ex-con who allegedly set the blaze and murdered them with the same kind of assault rifle used against those school kids and their teachers in Newtown. Or that on New Year’s Eve, in Sacramento, California, reportedly in a fight over a spilled drink, a 22-year-old opened fire in a bar, killing two and wounding two others.

In fact, according to and the Twitter feed @GunDeaths, at this writing,  in just those few weeks since the Newtown slaughter of the innocent, more than 400 have died from guns in America. That should boost the last quarter profit margins.  Not surprising, the merchants of death are experiencing a Happy New Year.

We have to keep talking about this, because Wayne LaPierre and the NRA will keep talking and they are insidious and powerful predators. Have you seen the reports in both the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and The Washington Post of how, 16 years ago, the NRA managed to get Congress to pull funding on gun violence studies at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

Since then, JAMA reports, “at least 427,000 people have died of gunshot wounds in the United States, including more than 165,000 who were victims of homicide.To put these numbers in context, during the same time period, 4586 Americans lost their lives in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Last year, Congress stopped the National Institutes of Health from spending any money that might be construed as advocating or promoting gun control. There’s even a section that was snuck into President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act that prevents doctors from collecting information on their patients’ gun use.

Denise Dowd, an emergency-care physician in Kansas City and adviser on firearms issues to the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the Post, “This illustrates the fact that the NRA has insinuated themselves into the small crevices of anything they can to do anything in their power to prohibit sensible gun-safety measures.”

As Wayne LaPierre’s brazen call for an armed populace makes clear, the odds don’t favor common sense. Several members of the new Congress are reintroducing bills that would change the gun laws and USA Today reports that the White House is “likely” to issue its recommendations on Jan. 15, but there are always those legislators willing to do the gun lobby’s bidding as they profess their love of the Second Amendment and wait like hungry house pets for the next NRA campaign donation.

Every American packing heat is a frightening vision of our future. It doesn’t have to be, if only we stop and think. That’s what a fellow named Frank James did. He stopped, thought — and changed directions.  A pawn shop owner in Seminole, Florida, whose youngest child is six, Frank James told a local ABC station he has decided to stop selling guns.

“It’ll probably cause my business to go out of business because it was a big part of it but I just couldn’t live with myself,” he said.” I thought, wow, this is crazy. As a gun dealer myself, I’m like, yes, we need more gun control. Guns are getting into the wrong hands of the wrong people.” He also said, “I’m not going to be a part of it anymore. Conscience wins over making money.”

Thank you, Mr. James.

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program, “Moyers & Company,” airing on public television. Check local airtimes or comment at

17 comments for “The Madness of the NRA

  1. ricky
    January 13, 2013 at 17:32

    remember, the first ammendment isnt about looking at boobs, its about the right to speak out against a corrupt and abusive government. the second ammendment isnt about duck hunting, its about the right of the people to rise up and overthrow a corrupt and abusive government. which means the second ammendment is about people owning assault weapons, military style weapons, etc. the constitution doesnt give us rights, its supposed to keep the government from taking our already existing rights that we are born with. it does not grant us rights, it protects them from government intrusion. the constitution does not limit us, it limits the government. the argument that the founders could not foresee bazookas and nukes is absurd. they did not foresee the telegraph, telephone, television, movies, radio, or the internet so obviously free speech does not apply to those mediums, right?????? anti-gun nuts are so ridiculous and evil its just exhausting to hear all their lies repeated over and over and over again.

  2. Deman
    January 10, 2013 at 08:29

    The NRA has only a couple million “members”, suckers who have wond lifetime memberships at athe local Pheasant Forever or who answer ads. And they have only a 10 million doallr budget, apparently. (Joyce foundation, which funds Brady has 1 billion plus.) They get too much blame and WAY too much credit. What drives it is that people that use guns do not relate to the scare tatics, (Hundreds of bullets a minute, POWERFUL “assault rifles, only puropose to kill people etc.) In fact, what you call an “assault rifle” is the most popular platform for a sporting rifle sold today. It ain’t “powerful” relative to a common deer rifle or shotgun and if you empty the “30 round mag” quickly you’ll burn out the barrel. Any 14 year old farm kid knows this today, and grows up without reslpect for the “experts” on TV. He knows the leaders of our nation are “kinda dumb” because he actually uses these guns all the time. Stop selling out the people by demonizing the NRA.

  3. Rick Gilhousen
    January 8, 2013 at 19:56

    Did anyone stop to think that those ppl that did most of these school shootings and other crimes stole the guns from law obidding citizens before hand . Also when the guns are gone we will at that point have the smallest Army in the world and the weakest nation on the planet i’m sixty one my life is almost over but God rest the souls of other ppl still here like my kids and the rest of the ppl that live here in this country. The worst thing is all of the military men and women that gave there lives fir this country all done with guns and ammo God rest there souls ,great job well done for nothing it looks like . It’s time for a house cleaning in this country I came into this world pretty much with a gun and looks like ill leave with out one . I guess it’s time to find a country to move to where there is no gun control I guess, but this is the country I was born in or the I grow up in , I’m not sure what this country is any more just wright checks it cant cash steal our homes and our money send or jobs over sea’s then wounder why no one will work, WHAT A JOKE ,There not taking my GUNS GOOD LUCK WITH THAT ONE LEAST WHILE I’M STILL ALIVE.And to the young guy that Jon Shep great job.

  4. Jon Shep
    January 7, 2013 at 21:43

    No body seems to take notice to the fact that even if you put gun control in place, there will still be a ton of fucking guns! And who do you think those illegal gun owners will be? A nice guy that has your best interests in mind? It will be a person that has your wallet and possesions in mind. If the law abiding citizens give up their guns, they won’t be there to save your ass thats getting mugged. Another happy thought is that if someone happens to call the police, they have roughly an 8 minute response time. I’ve never been mugged, but I can’t imagine that it would take more than a few seconds, especially with a gun when you don’t have one. The polititions that are trying to pass this law are power crazed retards that are trying to use the recent tradgedy political gain. I am 16 and find it sad that so many adults that actually have more potential to make a difference right now are looking past facts that could put themselves, me and others in danger. This is a viewpoint that I think should be looked at and thought about. I am not an NRA member, but I’m sure as hell glad that they are here to keep guns. Even though there have been terrible things that have been done with them, there have also been many unspoken good things that have come from them. And to the guy that wrote this article, FUCK YOU!!!! To those that read this, look at the facts and think about it. Guns are dangerous, but they also save lives.

  5. molly cruz
    January 7, 2013 at 15:19

    Guns are awful. But the alcohol and drugs that fuel their criminal use are worse.

  6. Jim None
    January 7, 2013 at 14:09

    Wow, what a content free, appeal to emotion article. Not the slightest acknowledgement that plenty of people besides NRA members do not want more gun control or more assaults on the second amendment. No, just smear the NRA with lies while pretending you have the high ground. Also noted was the disdain shown for the second amendment. If Moyers feels that way about the second perhaps he’d like to see the First Amendment eliminated too since all the copy cat shooting are caused by the out of control “if it bleeds it leads” media, of which he is a part.

    This article is just further evidence that the first amendment is no longer appropriate for today’s world and needs to be reinterpreted. It was never intended to provide a license for lies and harmful info to be disseminated. We aren’t still living in the founders world where news traveled slowly and there was no one or two single mass market media companies that told everyone what was news and what wasn’t. In today’s world we no longer have the luxury of allowing people and companies unfettered access to high speed printing presses and instant electronic communication. It’s time to consider whether Citizens and media should only be allowed the single page broadsheets printed on hand-run presses such as were around when the Founders wrote the Constitution. For everyone’s safety we need to have gvt control and licensing of the media and registration of every printer. There needs to be strict limits on how many pages per minute printers can print when owned by non-gvt agencies. There needs to be limits on how much paper a private individual can own and stockpile. There needs to be strict limits on the bandwidth an individual has access to and the number of megabytes of data they send daily. No honest citizen has a need for more then a ream of paper per month or more then 200 megabytes per day of bandwidth. We can no longer stand idly by while children’s minds are polluted by trash like this Moyers article.

    • Karel
      January 7, 2013 at 23:43

      How do you kill a person with a newspaper?

  7. leftover
    January 7, 2013 at 09:37

    Well…I guess at least one reasonable and responsible gun owner should speak up here. I haven’t supported the NRA since the 70s when Harlan Carter changed it from a democratic organization of gun owners into an gun industry lobbying tool and a nest for paranoid fanatics. Another WaPo article, Gun Owners vs. the NRA: What the polling shows, concludes:

    What these poll results show is that the coalitional politics of gun control is more complex than you might think after LaPierre’s speech.  This is not a world with gun owners on one side and those who do not own guns on the other.

    Gun owners do not speak with one voice about gun control, and, for many gun owners, Wayne LaPierre does not appear to speak for them.

    Reasonable and responsible gun owners, and there are many, will support reasonable legislation, (i.e. consistent with existing 2nd Amendment jurisprudence), designed to be responsible, (i.e. effective against the growing threat of mass killings and firearm injury in general). Past attempts at gun control have not been either…obviously. What the Newtown tragedy tells us is that more stringent, even more radical, modes of firearms control are necessary…just for starters.

    When liberals/progressives/what-ever stop giving the Lapierres and the Pratts the media attention they fight for and decide to get down to business, they’ll find they have a significant amount of support from gun owners. But continuously railing against NRA foolishness and failing to recognize…and admit…the fact the NRA does not represent the majority of gun owners in America is just a waste of time.

    If we are serious about significantly reducing the potential for mass killings and gun violence in general, the way forward is clear. According to the 2011 polls Sides reports on, 36% of gun owners already supported it before Newtown. Liberals/Progressives/what-ever need to convince their politicians to stop diddling themselves with irresponsible, ineffective legislation.

    The issue isn’t LaPierre or the NRA. The issue is the increased threat to public safety that the gross proliferation of semiautomatic weapons represents and what we’re going to do about it. Folks like Moyers and Winship should get busy with that instead of playing games with LaPierre and the NRA.

  8. walter smith
    January 7, 2013 at 02:40

    your right TO FREELY EXPRESS YOUR opinion here without fear of reprisal was bought and paid for by the blood and sacrifice of people with guns. me and mine stand ready to defend that RIGHT for the antis and the pros because that is AMERICA.

  9. Vincent W. Calhoun
    January 6, 2013 at 23:07

    I support the NRA. not the air headed lefties like Bill Moyers and Michael Windship! These types have tried to disarm us for years.
    How these guys can believe we’ll all be just fine, dis-armed, and possibly dead at the hands of armed thugs, or at the very least enslaved by the left can only be believed by complete idiots!

  10. Ed Clark
    January 6, 2013 at 23:04
  11. Chris
    January 6, 2013 at 21:21

    Wow , that was one bland , uninteresting article. 90 seconds of my life I will never get back. And what the hell makes anyone think that when guns are banned all of a sudden all the bad guys start acting nice? I could give a shit less about how many guns are on the planet. And if a dickhead comes trying to knock me in the head with a hammer , i want the sound of a .40 cal to be the last sound he will ever hear. Do you dipshits think I could yell “time out” and the perp would give me a chance to call 911 . Or would you rather a law abiding citizen just take a hammer blow to the head as collateral damage to your bleeding heart crusade?

    • Eddie
      January 6, 2013 at 23:13

      HHhhhmm… so you envision some bad-guy with a hammer would announce his intentions and give you time enough to run and get your weapon, eh? THAT’S mighty accommodating of him. Most evil-doers I read about will try to surprise their victim, not telegraph their intentions in advance. And of course if the malefactor has a gun, he can surprise you from a lot further away. IF some guy means to kill you or me (which has never been a problem for me in my 63 yrs, but maybe you run with a different crowd), I’d sure as hell want to make it as difficult as possible for him – – – make him have to get close enough to use some club/knife, which would give me a fighting chance to fight or flee, as opposed to him standing 50 yds away out of sight and shooting me through the head or chest.

  12. 1.think2.act
    January 6, 2013 at 19:38

    You cannot have it both ways. The argument for gun ownership is that it is a dangerous world. It cannot also make sense to have blind faith in human decency if those humans happen to be gun owners. If the NRA can guarantee that no one else who buys a gun legally is going to snap and slaughter adults or children that would be fine. Since they cannot obviously, it is not madness to be concerned about the possibility since it has happened again and again and again.

    The power of glorified violence on a sane person is debatable. Either way glorified violence leads to nothing or much less if unstable people cannot get guns to act on their urges. While almost anything can be used as a weapon guns unlike anything else give anyone with average strength the ability kill anyone, and almost as many people as they see fit.

    There is such a thing as responsible gun ownership. Acting as if careful regulation of a tool that grants whoever has it the power of life and death is madness or trying to pretend this is 1776 instead of 2013 is not part of it.

    • Norm
      January 7, 2013 at 17:35

      First off so me some facts on NRA members snapping and killing people personally I see where gun ownership is restricted like chigo ill crime and death rates are way above what it is here in fl. Please get the facts straight. Thank you

  13. Gary747
    January 6, 2013 at 16:07

    I support the NRA… and I get no money from the gun industry. The pro-gun-control madmen love to use the senseless acts of madmen to try and label all gun owners as madmen. Of course the left wants to restrict guns from the people… it’s for their personal sense of power and control. That power belongs to the people. It is up to the people to defend their children, culture, and way of life. You leave that to someone else, and you lose your security, freedom, and independence. There is nothing magic about the NRA. It’s just a group of like-minded responsible people uniting behind a shared belief. Those who think NRA members are really bad guys (and gals), consider that those millions of members live right next door, run local businesses, fly your airplanes, and fix your cars. I suggest we all unite to fix the real problems (mental health reform and excessive glorified violence) and not divide, falling into class warfare. I promise you, the NRA is not the problem. Mass murderers are not NRA supported.

  14. Ahem
    January 6, 2013 at 13:25

    Quite simply, one man’s good guy is another man’s bad guy–the basis for war. NRA members see no value to human life (except maybe their own), and seek only money. To some, this philosophy makes NRA members really bad guys.

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