Today’s press conference with NRA chief Wayne LaPierre is already legendary, so much so that it doesn’t even seem to matter that Jon Stewart is on vacation – no mockery of the speech can actually match its power to make jaws drop on its own.
Paul Wells has more on the substance of the speech at the linked post, but I just thought I would go through the NRA’s official transcript and pick out some of the memorable quotes.
A couple of things to note off the bat: One, the official wording of the speech is just full of italics to give it that excited, outraged feel! And two, virtually all of it is devoted to blaming the media in some way: the themes are that the media covers killers too much, is unfair to law-abiding gun owners (and perpetrate this unfairness “rather than face their own moral failings), and denies its responsibility for poisoning our children’s minds. Despite being a media conference, in other words, this is not an attempt to gain favourable media coverage. It’s directed toward people who are already inclined to blame the media, and gives them more reasons why the media is the enemy.
- Probably the most famous quote from the conference, apart from the call for armed guards in schools, is LaPierre’s attempt to play “gotcha” with the media by pointing out that his staff had found out about a violent online video game called “Kindergarten Killer.” He asked: “How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?” The obvious answer – because nobody thought, or had any reason to think, that “Kindergarten Killer” had anything to do with this crime – might have come up if he had waited around for questions.
- A key moment early in the speech comes when LaPierre congratulates himself on having waited so long to speak: “While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectfully silent.” There’s some classic jiu-jitsu: what looks like the NRA being afraid to speak about a touchy situation is actually a sign of their deep respect, and a sign of everyone else’s horrible lack of respect.
- The references to violent video games, music videos and movies suggest that at least parts of the speech are just leftover ’90s boilerplate, particularly since the two violent movies mentioned are Natural Born Killers and American Psycho – two movies from the ’90s that are more likely to be watched by film buffs than violent criminals. He could at least have updated his references to include Django Unchained or something, if he were really trying.
- The perfect LaPierre quote: “So why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect our President or our country or our police, but bad when it’s used to protect our children in their schools?” Hm? How come? He’s got us there. As Dan Gardner said in response, “Why is a gun good if it shoots Hitler but bad when I let my baby play with it in the crib? Huh? Well?” It all makes perfect sense if you believe that nothing is ever dangerous unless it’s in the hands of evil people.
- And finally, his challenge to liberal media weenies to at least consider his hypothetical scenario where a heroic guy with a gun solves everything: “Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 innocent lives might have been spared? Is that so abhorrent to you that you would rather continue to risk the alternative?” You see, if we admit that something is possible, then we have to agree it’s a good idea, even if we mean “possible” in the sense of “anything’s possible, even something highly unlikely.”