As Executive Vice-president and CEO of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre is currently the face of pro-gun side of the gun control argument. In the wake of the Sandy Hook mass shooting in December, he has been holding up his end about as well as Todd Akin has been presenting himself as an expert on the female anatomy. In Senate hearings yesterday, LaPierre’s arguments against universal background checks for gun transactions couldn’t have been more fanciful if he had hired Lewis Carrol as a ghost writer. He has the additional problem that he is arguing against the position supported not only by 92 percent of the American body politic, but by 80 percent of his own members.
It’s not hard to understand why even NRA members support background checks. Gun owners like myself would prefer that only responsible, stable, law-abiding people possess firearms. When a lunatic like the guy in Newtown, CT, gets his hands on a gun, it does not exactly reflect well on the rest of us. And as much as some gun owners and NRA members might harbor Dirty Harry fantasies that a citizen hero might draw his concealed Glock and take down the next Adam Lanza, I think most of us would prefer to relieve ourselves of that necessity before it presents itself.
So if Wayne is not on Capitol Hill representing his own members, whose dues pay him to do just that, then conventional wisdom suggests that he is there as a lobbyist for the gun manufacturers. If that’s true than he has fools for his clients. You would think that gun manufacturers, presumably as image-conscious as any corporation, would prefer to avoid the negative publicity which occurs when their products are used to slaughter first graders.
So, if Mr. LaPierre is not serving the interests of his members or of the industry, at least not well, then is he serving another constituency or just bad at his job? If the latter, than the 80 percent of NRA members who support what he just made a fool of himself opposing need to be vocal and make themselves heard to the NRA. If he is really misrepresenting the will of American gun owners, than we should persuade the NRA Board of Directors to send Wayne back out with revised marching orders. If that’s not possible, than it may take the election of a new board followed by the selection of a new Executive Vice-president. NRA rules appear set up to prevent its membership from having much of a say in this process,1 but if 80 percent of their members were sufficiently pissed at such poor representation, listening would no longer be optional.
It’s unlikely that the 80 percent could sway such intellectual gnats giants as Ted Nugent, but presumably a more sober and sensible person like Tom Selleck might actually be thinking in line with the vast majority of the NRA membership.
At the present, however, for presenting such a poor face of gun owners to the American people and trying to throw a monkey wrench into a very necessary debate, Mr. Wayne LaPierre deserves his status as a permanent member of the Marketing Dept. of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.