False NRA Attacks On Obama and Biden Backfire

10/26/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Paul Helmke Professor, Indiana University's School of Public & Environmental Affairs

The presidential campaign is entering the home stretch, and once again the National Rifle Association leadership is firing its big propaganda guns at the Democratic candidates for president and vice president.

The difference this year? The guns have jammed.

The NRA leadership likes to talk a lot about freedom, but when it comes to their political advertising and direct-mail literature, they must mean the "freedom" to distort and deceive.

This week at least two national news organizations plus a leading political watchdog (along with the Brady Campaign) criticized a new NRA advertising effort being waged against Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Among other things, observers characterized this ad campaign as "a huge stretch" (The Washington Post), "misleading" (CNN), and one that "distorts Obama's position on gun control beyond recognition" (

This is nothing new. Congressional Quarterly and The St. Petersburg Times also recently gave the NRA their "Pants On Fire" award for being "not just misleading, [but] intentionally dishonest. That is, Pants on Fire wrong."

What's more, NRA leaders seem to forget that they used nearly the same deceptive vitriol on Sen. John McCain just a few years ago.

For example:

  • * Did NRA leaders just "forget" that they accused Sen. McCain of being "one of the premier flag carriers for the enemies of the Second Amendment"?
  • * Did NRA leaders just "forget" that they falsely claimed that "anti-gun groups ... have teamed with U.S. Sen. John McCain to exploit terrorism in order to advance their gun control agenda"?
  • * Did NRA leaders just "forget" that they morphed Sen. McCain's picture with Sen. Joe Lieberman, and falsely claimed that the "...McCain-Lieberman [bill to close the gun show loophole] is a cornucopia of poison bills that would allow a future anti-gun executive branch to shut down gun shows entirely"?
  • Of course they didn't "forget." The fact is, for all their vaunted election prowess, they're stuck with a C-plus student as their "valedictorian" this year and there's nothing they can do about it.

    The NRA's leaders are looking down the barrel of an election year pointed right at them and they're scared to death.

    Yet after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in D.C. v. Heller, it should be clear to the American people, and specifically gun owners, that nobody's going to "take your guns away."

    Sadly, NRA leaders seem to feel their only option is to make Americans so afraid that they can't see the truth about the candidates -- or the NRA's pattern of deception.

    Thankfully, the American people are catching on.

    (Note to readers: This entry, along with past entries, has been co-posted on and the Huffington Post.)