Protesters assemble at a gun control rally, December 17, 2012. (Flickr/Edward Kimmel)
Hysterical at the prospect that at least a few elected officials might stop treating its pronouncements as political gospel, the National Rifle Association announced Tuesday that it had attracted 250,000 new members in the month since the slaying of twenty children by a gun-toting killer in Newtown, Connecticut.
The NRA’s release of the new numbers was timed to “counter” President Obama’s Wednesday announcement of legislative proposals and executive orders developed by Vice President Joe Biden’s task force on mass violence.
Most of the media, having lavished coverage on the NRA’s vitriolic response to its meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, have in recent days been dutifully reporting a series of announcements and “leaks” by the group about its self-declared appeal—just as it will now heap attention on the NRA’s vitriolic response to the reforms advanced by the Biden-led task force.
But the other side of the story is at least as compelling as the latest declarations from what former Bush administration ethics lawyer Richard Painter has decried as “the NRA protection racket.”
Since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school shocked the nation in December, support for the gun-safety movement—and presumably for the initiatives that Biden and his task force are announcing—has grown at an exponentially greater rate than support for the NRA.
The Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign, which has opened its membership rolls to citizens who want to work with local elected officials to promote gun safety, attracted 400,000 new members in late December and early January. And more than 900,000 Americans signed a “Demand a Plan” petition seeking specific details of what will be done to dial down gun violence.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has literally been overwhelmed by calls and e-mails offering support, and by the response to a rapidly expanding “We Are Better Than This” campaign featuring members of thirty-two families who have lost loved ones in deadly mass shootings.