WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the fall of 2009, Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, convened a gun conference that brought police chiefs and law enforcement officials to Washington from around the country. Wexler also reached out to the NRA. The NRA representative remained largely silent, and at the end of the day Wexler sensed that the NRA had showed up merely to say no.
“They were not willing to accept what police chiefs who deal with shooting and firearms every day were saying,” Wexler says. “It was like, we don’t really care what you’re saying because this is what we think. The NRA has a preconceived idea about what should be done. And that is nothing.”
The NRA keeps track of gun-control supporters and makes lists. The NRA compendium of “National Organizations With Anti-Gun Policies” includes AARP, the AFL-CIO, the American Medical Association, the American Bar Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics — just from the A’s on the list. (Toward the end of the list is The Washington Post.)
The NRA waited a week before it responded in depth to the Newtown massacre. LaPierre’s news conference, covered live on cable television, reintroduced America to the core values of the association. After calling for armed guards for every school, and uttering the line, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre predicted that he’d be beaten up in the news media:
“I can imagine the headlines, the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow. ‘More guns,’ you’ll claim, ‘are the NRA’s answer to everything.’ Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools.”
“CRAZIEST MAN ON EARTH” blared the front-page headline of the next morning’s New York Daily News.