Don't bring your gun to town
The National Rifle Association wants you to believe that the press release section of its lobbying arm's website is essentially a blog where staff members can freely post their "personal opinions" in the guise of organization policy. Last Friday, the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action posted an eye-catching, unsigned statement criticizing "open carry" gun activists in Texas for bringing their high-power semi-automatic rifles into Chipotle, Starbucks, and other businesses. On Tuesday, NRA-ILA chief Chris Cox walked back that "mistake" by a "staffer."
"It shouldn't have happened. I've had a discussion with the staffer who wrote that piece and expressed his personal opinion," Cox told NRA News radio host Cam Edwards. Cox apologized for the "poor word choice" the "staffer" used, and assured fellow gun advocates that the NRA fully supports open-carry laws. (You can watch the whole interview at Talking Points Memo.)
Earlier Tuesday, I suggested that the NRA was criticizing the Open Carry Texas activists for gathering in public spaces with loaded AR-15 rifles because that made people feel unsafe, and making members feel safe is a key marketing tool of the NRA. Friday's apparently unauthorized NRA statement similarly argued that the tactic was counterproductive. OCT and three affiliated gun-rights groups have even warned their members that such stunts are "negating our efforts and distracting us from our mission." Cox still suggests that this isn't "the best tactic to win."
All good? Not really. On Monday, OCT posted a stern warning to the NRA, saying it would "withdraw its full support of the NRA" unless the lobby walked back its "disgusting" comments. Cox evidently listened.