It's safe to say that anyone surprised at National Rifle Association (NRA) hypocrisy on gun violence needs to rethink their belief in the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny and Republican bipartisanism. But the statement they released in the wake of the Gabrielle Giffords assassination attempt takes the cake.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this senseless tragedy, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and their families during this difficult time," said the rote NRA statement, released after the shooting.
If they wanted to be really transparent, the next line would have been "Meanwhile, we will continue our crusade to ensure that every right-wing nutcase in the country can keep packing heat."
The NRA does this every time there is another gun-fueled massacre in America and what makes it continually astounding is that the only reason this organization even exists is to ensure that anyone wanting access to a firearm can get one almost at will. Apropos to Saturday's grievous events, is the fact that the NRA's most recent battles involve ensuring that teenagers can get and carry guns in a manner reminiscent of the Wild West.
The latest of their ongoing fights with The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence involves the Brady Center battling an NRA lawsuit claiming that teens and young persons ages 18-20 have a constitutional right to buy handguns from gun shops. The Brady Center, named after James S. Brady, who was almost killed (and permanently disabled) during an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981, has filed a brief calling on a U.S. District Court in Texas to dismiss the NRA's action, which claims that teenagers should be able to walk into their local gun store and buy a piece.
Sales to most teenagers were barred by the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968, because of the risks of gang violence and high rates of violent crime and homicide associated with this age group.
"It is dangerous and reckless for the NRA to claim that teens should be allowed to stockpile semiautomatic handguns legally with no adult supervision," said Brady Center President Paul Helmke last month. "The Second Amendment allows for commonsense gun laws. It doesn't require that we make it easier for teenagers to buy handguns."
The Brady Center is joined against the NRA lawsuit by The Student Government and Graduate Student Assembly of the University of Texas at Austin (on behalf of the school's 62,000 students) and the Texas organizations Mothers Against Teen Violence and Students for Gun-Free Schools.
The NRA's poster boy in this case? It's 18-year-old James D'Cruz, a charming lad who writes lots of normal teenaged stuff on his Facebook page like "After hunting men, nothing can compare" and "There is no redemption, There is no forgiveness. I will stare into your eyes as I pull the trigger and laugh as you hit the ground with your last, pathetic breath."
In yet another lawsuit involving D'Cruz, the NRA is also stepping up to the plate and challenging a 15-year-old Texas law that stops people under 21 from carrying concealed weapons in public.
And the NRA also found it "unfortunate and disappointing" when the Colorado State University (CSU) Board of Governors made the decision in 2010 to prohibit students from carrying firearms on all CSU campuses. The Brady Center has also filed a brief with the Colorado Supreme Court asking that they dismiss a lawsuit seeking a right to carry guns on CSU campuses -- a lawsuit that, while not initiated by the NRA, is certain to receive significant support from them.
So even with the low standard we have learned to set for the NRA, it is amazing even for them to express such regret for Saturday's carnage while, at the same time, participating in lawsuits to make it easier for teenagers to get guns -- and fighting for a dude in D'Cruz whose rhetoric sounds an awful lot like the Columbine shooters. They do this, while also fighting state and federal lawmakers whenever legislation is produced to keep guns primarily in the hands of law enforcement.
What makes the NRA's crocodile tears even more galling? In 2004, when the Federal Assault Weapons Ban signed into law by Bill Clinton 10 years earlier was set to expire, the NRA, along with their Republican lackeys in Congress, did everything possible to keep the ban from being extended -- and they succeeded.
While it's doubtful that the law would have prevented the attempt on Congresswoman Gifford's life, it had been successful at keeping weapons like the kind allegedly used by Tucson suspect Jared Loughner off the streets. The Glock 19 magazine Loughner is alleged to have used would have been illegal to manufacture and difficult to purchase under the assault weapons ban -- and according to police, the magazines used by Loughner carried 31 rounds each.
"It would have drastically reduced the number of shots he got off before he had to pause, unload and reload -- and he could have been stopped," said Daniel Vice, senior attorney at the Brady Center, on how the assault weapons ban might have changed the result of the Tucson tragedy.
And on that note, please take any sobbing and remorseful statements from the Republican party over this shooting with the same massive grain of salt used for the NRA at times like this. When the assault weapons ban went bye-bye in 2004, it was Republicans who fought tooth and nail against the law's renewal.
And why not, you say? After all, the GOP gets barrelsful of money from the NRA and probably very little from people who end up getting gunned down by these weapons.
So we have an assassination attempt on a Congresswoman and the deaths of a federal judge, a 76-year-old church volunteer, two elderly women, a 30-year-old Giffords staff member and, heartbreakingly, a 9-year-old girl who had recently been elected to the student council at her school.
But, hey, maybe when -- not if -- the next shooting rampage occurs, the NRA will at least have the decency to stop the presses for the day and keep their mouths shut.
I'm also guessing that about the time that happens I'll find the tooth fairy has left some cash under my pillow.
You can reach Bob Geiger at firstname.lastname@example.org