In the red-meat fulmination that is Wayne LaPierre's yearly appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (commonly known as CPAC, held here in Washington, DC, last week) the NRA chief is quick to clearly state what he hates, "clowns" (i.e., the news media, gun control advocates, and Members of Congress who don't toe the NRA line) and what he loves: freedom, freedom, and, yes, even more freedom. For those who have not been exposed to the NRA's lexicon, freedom means the freedom of virtually anyone to buy just about any gun to carry almost anywhere. And the innocents who happen to find themselves on the wrong end of freedom's bullets? Well, in the words of former NRA chief Harlon Carter, that's just the "price of freedom." LaPierre's speech is an exercise in narrowcasting-- drawing cheers from the faithful, immune to condemnation from outside the organization's gun-happy activist bubble.
This black-and-white approach fades to gray when LaPierre is asked about gun control measures that the organization has publicly supported, but that LaPierre knows will not play well with the group's grassroots, otherwise known as "Freedom's Army."
When asked off the dais about the NRA's supposed support for full funding of the National Instant Check System for retail gun purchases (commonly known as the NICS) as seen in this video from MediaMatters, LaPierre, can't bring himself to actually say the words that his organization supports full funding for the system--even though that's its "official" position. Instead, he runs through a list of NRA-initiated actions that have been put in place that actually undercut the system's effectiveness, most notably the requirement that records of approved sales generated by the NICS be destroyed within 24 hours.
A 2002 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report warned of the negative effects this policy would have on the NICS system:
[A] next-day destruction policy would adversely affect some aspects of current NICS operations, which would have public safety implications and could lessen the efficacy of current operations. Regarding public safety, the FBI would lose certain abilities to initiate firearm-retrieval actions when new information reveals that individuals who were approved to purchase firearms should not have been. Specifically, during the first 6 months of the current 90-day retention policy, the FBI used retained records to initiate 235 firearm-retrieval actions, of which 228 (97 percent) could not have been initiated under the proposed next-day destruction policy.
Hundreds of people a year who shouldn't have guns get to keep them just to salve the NRA's paranoia?
Well, that's just the price of freedom.
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