Words like "shameful," "disaster," and "mean-spirited, cold, and misguided" have described the National Rifle Association's press conference in response to the Newtown, CT, school shooting that left 26 dead, including 20 children.
In a tone best left for a boardroom plea to fund a new product, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, as expected, defended guns. His focus, presented early in the conference, was how to "protect our children." The organization's ideas are to have "an active, national database of the mentally ill," armed guards in schools ("a police officer in every school"), and armed teachers and principals.
LaPierre blamed video games, the media's misrepresentation of guns, decreasing prosecutions of violent crime, and the "criminal class: killers, robbers, rapists, and gang members, who have spread like cancer." Using questionable logic, LaPierre warned that another hurricane or terrorist attack could bring about a "recipe for a national disaster." At one point, LaPierre seemed to blame the Sandy Hook teachers, who tried to intervene but couldn't without guns. He said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
The speech was interrupted by protestors carrying signs and yelling, "The NRA has blood on its hands."
LaPierre said, "While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectfully silent." The NRA had issued a statement to this effect. However, critics say the organization's silence on social media this week was a mistake and point out the contraction of President David Keene's closing line: "This is the beginning of a serious conversation, but we won't be taking questions today." In fairness, he also said that the group will answer questions next week.
- Who was LaPierre's intended audience? To what extent would the press conference have appealed to that group?
- What do you think were the NRA's communication objectives for the conference?
- To avoid criticism, what could have been a better approach for the organization?