The NRA Still Talks About Guns Like It’s 1986

This Washington Post story indicates that the NRA has decided to not change their rhetoric in the face of strengthening opposition.

Grover Norquist likes to think Hillary Clinton is to the left of America on guns.  He's exactly wrong.

Grover Norquist likes to think Hillary Clinton is to the left of America on guns. He’s exactly wrong.

Grover Norquist, a leading conservative activist and member of the NRA’s board, went so far as to predict Democrats would “now lose the presidency” for speaking out on guns.

“Democrats tend to be urban, the kind of people who aren’t invited to go duck hunting, and if they do go hunting, they find it slightly icky,” Norquist said “When that part of their party comes through, they lose. When they start to say that people with guns are the problem, that they don’t trust people with guns, and that people with guns are somehow connected to mass murders, that’s what turns voters off.”

Uh-huh. That’s what this debate is all about, Grover: duck hunting. That’s why Martin O’Malley passionately spoke against duck hunting on the debate stage last night. Norquist, of course, used to be a big deal. His no-tax pledge was once considered to be the litmus test for any Republican candidate. But now he’s reduced to parroting the same old NRA talking points that they’ve been dragging out since the 1980s.

What’s different? Well, we have an American public that’s finally realized that this pattern of shoot, mourn, repeat isn’t going to go away by itself. And we’ve got a media that finally doesn’t just republish NRA talking points. The Washington Post fact-checks Norquist’s claims and finds them false:

Support for background checks is extremely high — between 85 and 92 percent in recent polls — and wins backing from both gun-owning households and other households. Support is also high for laws preventing those with mental illness from purchasing guns and for a federal gun database.

It might seem odd to praise Washington Post writers Philip Rucker and Robert Costa for doing their jobs, but a few years ago this kind of journalism simply wouldn’t have happened. This story likely would have ended with Norquist’s quote, giving it the feel of gospel.

Still, supposedly in the interest of “fairness,” after a quote from the Center for American Progress’s Arkadi Gerney on the fact that background checks are “a winner in general elections, and an absolute necessity in primaries,” Rucker and Costa conclude with a quote from a Republican consultant calling it “Unlikely’ that Clinton is “going to go into eastern Ohio and talk to blue-collar Democrats and others in the same exact way on guns” next fall. I think that’s more than a little presumptuous; assuming she wins the nomination, why wouldn’t Clinton discuss an issue that enjoys the support of nine out of ten Americans? To me, that sounds like good politics.

Paul Constant

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