Guns don't kill kids — ignoring kids kills kids. That seems to be the message many upset Americans are taking away from the National Rifle Association's new lobbying strategy following its response to President Obama's gun announcement today, in a statement that included this line: "Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation." The response came two hours after President Obama spoke at a press conference surrounded by children who had written to the White House about gun violence after the Newtown school shootings, after which he signed executive orders that set off a wave of reaction from gun-rights advocates. The gun lobby responded in public much more quickly than its much maligned lag following the Connecticut shootings, but the "children" angle seemed to be upsetting gun-control advocates almost immediately. Here's the full statement:
Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority. The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America's most valuable asset – our children.
Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.
The NRA has been preparing for a fight in public since its contentious response to a meeting with Vice President Biden over the proposals last week, and the lobby introduced a new ad campaign focusing partly on children — and President Obama's children — heading into the White House announcement today. Today's line of reasoning ("Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority") harkens back to the messaging from NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre's first public reaction the week after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, when he suggested that the way to keep children safe was to place armed guards at every school in America.
But with legislative battle set to come following Obama's executive actions on more meaningful actions in Congress, where the NRA's influence remains very powerful, the negative reaction to the NRA's lobbying tactics has been swift, especially on the NRA Facebook page and on Twitter:
NRA should hold presser with a pile of dead children in the background, since that's what they're for.— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) January 16, 2013