December 21, 2012

Greg Sargent really nailed it today with respect to today’s NRA press statement:

Keep in mind that all of this is deliberately designed to serve an overarching strategic goal — distraction. The NRA absolutely must keep the focus off of the problem of easy gun availability, and what can be done about it, for as long as possible.

The media narrative the NRA hopes for out of this presser is twofold: NRA criticizes media for maligning gun owners; and NRA calls for armed security guards in schools. This is standard obfuscation from the NRA, which always tries to distract from the discussion about the need for reform by characterizing the push for it as driven by elite cultural disdain for gun culture and ordinary gun owners. And focusing only on schools is about diverting the conversation away from the broader epidemic of gun violence.

That’s exactly right. And the best response from those who want new restrictions on guns isn’t to fight back against the NRA “proposal” for cops in schools; it’s to ignore it, and keep the focus on developing serious legislation.

The other thing to remember about the NRA and its president, Wayne LaPierre, is that (as David S. Bernstein has pointed out) they’re not only advocates for the gun industry but also competitors in the conservative marketplace. In that respect, saying outrageous things and getting a reaction from liberals helps them generate revenue, whether or not it helps their legislative strategy. It’s not exactly the case that liberals could make the NRA a fringe group by treating it as one, but it’s probably true that treating it as a major factor helps make it more so.

Besides that: If any bill is going to pass, it’s going to need House Republicans. It’s possible, if unlikely, that enough constituent pressure could push them to choose modest new measures over not passing that legislation.But if the Republicans are forced to choose between liberal Democrats and the NRA, they’re going to choose the NRA, no matter what the public opinion polls say.

Of course, those who favor new measures against guns and gun violence will have to engage other arguments at times. But Greg’s right — it’s one thing to engage serious arguments and another to fall for bait just meant to distract everyone. The best strategy for liberals — and anyone else who wants to get something signed into law — is to just ignore the NRA for now.