Their remarks were measured and their tones somber. Chris Cox, the head of the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm, noted that Las Vegas victims included NRA members. But in a pair of Fox News interviews last night, Cox and the NRA executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, made clear that reports of a conciliatory response by the NRA to the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history were greatly exaggerated.
But the fine print was important: The NRA was not endorsing legislative bans introduced by Democrats Dianne Feinstein in the Senate and David Ciciline of Rhode Island and Dina Titus of Nevada in the House. Instead, the NRA pressured the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to use its regulatory powers to reverse the bureau’s earlier decision determining that the products were OK to manufacture and sell.
Never mind that the ATF says its doesn’t have the authority to outlaw bump stocks and other rapid-fire gadgets, because they don’t qualify as firearms and therefore fall outside the applicable statutes.
This wasn’t the NRA coming to the table. Trying to turn the tables, is more like it.
“We didn’t talk about banning anything,” said Cox on Tucker Carlson’s show.
Instead, here are the points that he and LaPierre did press on their synchronized Fox News appearances:
Bump stocks are a “side issue.” Cox: “If ATF needs to look at something that functions as a fully automatic weapon, they’re the ones that approved it, they need to look at it. That’s not what the National Rifle Association’s focused on.”
If Congress takes up a gun bill, it should be national reciprocity for concealed-carry permits. “Congress needs to do their job,” said Cox. “Allow good, honest people the ability to defend themselves: Pass reforms like national concealed-carry reciprocity.” In LaPierre’s interview with Sean Hannity, he also raised reciprocity several times.
Because many mass shooters have passed background checks, expanding gun restrictions is pointless. When the question is “how do we stop mass shootings?” the NRA is good at sowing doubts about a top policy priority of gun-violence-prevention groups. But the bigger picture is important: In the aggregate, states with tougher gun laws record fewer gun deaths, and states that make it harder to get concealed-carry permits have seen bigger drops in violent crime.
It’s Hollywood’s fault. Both Cox and LaPierre deployed similar versions of the same talking point. “We spend millions teaching gun responsibility, this Hollywood crowd makes billions teaching gun irresponsibility. Their hypocrisy is beyond belief.”
Politico has more here on the NRA’s political strategy.