Anyone who perhaps hoped new leadership at the National Rifle Association would bring a chance for dialogue on the gun issue should think again.
James Porter, an Alabama attorney who makes his living defending gun manufacturers in lawsuits, took over as president of the NRA recently. Even before assuming the new post, he told the rank and file they are the front line of a “culture war” that goes beyond gun rights. “(You) here in this room are the fighters for freedom. We are the protectors,” he said.
There’s more. Porter has called President Barack Obama a “fake president,” Attorney General Eric Holder “rabidly un-American” and the U.S. Civil War the “War of Northern Aggression.”
He also wants every U.S. citizen to be trained in the use of standard military firearms, to allow them to defend themselves. From those damned Yankees, apparently.
It’s clear the NRA is doing its best to marginalize itself. With a leader like that, it’s a wonder that any sane member of Congress would want to be seen as part of the NRA agenda.
The NRA would have done itself a world of good if it had tried to shed the image established under its onetime president, Charlton Heston, best known for holding a rifle above his head at a NRA convention in 2000 and saying he wouldn’t release it until it was pried from his “cold dead hands.” It was an image that had a powerful impact. But those tactics certainly don’t work today, not at a time when most Americans are more concerned about keeping their children safe from insane gunmen in schools than making sure that everyone is armed.
Millions of Americans own firearms and understand the responsibility that comes with it. It’s hard to imagine that most of them would find the NRA’s new direction and message appealing.