The NRA supported its endorsement of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump at the group’s annual meeting by repeatedly telling the lie that likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton opposes gun ownership and would confiscate guns as president.
The NRA lying to its members -- and anyone else observing the annual meeting -- is anathema to the group’s 2016 election messaging, which is centered on the claim that the NRA “doesn’t lie” but that instead Americans are constantly lied to by “the political and media elites at the highest levels.”
Moments before the NRA endorsed Donald Trump at its annual meeting on May 20, the NRA’s two top members of leadership, executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, and Chris Cox, the group’s top lobbyist who also runs the NRA’s political efforts, told a series of lies about Clinton’s position on guns.
According to repeated campaign trail statements, Clinton has expressed support for both people being allowed to own guns and for regulations on firearms, such as expanded background checks. PolitiFact found there is “no evidence” for the claim Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment and that Clinton’s position on whether the Second Amendment confers an individual right to gun ownership is “more or less in line with the George W. Bush administration’s position” on the landmark Second Amendment decision District of Columbia v. Heller.
In his remarks, Cox claimed that Clinton thinks it’s “wrong” that “the Supreme Court said you have a right to protect your life against a murderer in your own home.” (Clinton actually believes Heller was “wrongly decided” because it “may open the door to overturning thoughtful, common sense safety measures in the future” such as a child access provision that was struck down in the ruling, not because she opposes firearm ownership for lawful self-defense.)
Cox continued, claiming Clinton “wants us to surrender our firearms,” “to live in a place where only law enforcement has guns,” and made repeated references to his claim Clinton wants “to take our guns.”
Then, moments before the NRA’s formal endorsement of Trump, LaPierre took the stage to claim that “if she could, Hillary would ban every gun” and that Clinton “craves” gun confiscation. The next day at the official meeting of members, LaPierre grouped in Clinton with other entities the NRA claims don’t support self-defense, saying, “We will not give up our God-given right to defend ourselves, our families, to the elites, to Obama, to the media, and sure as hell not to another Clinton.”
None of these claims are true. Yet, the NRA has increasingly positioned itself as a truth-teller about the 2016 elections. In an article in the March edition of the NRA’s magazine America’s 1st Freedom that attacked the honesty of Clinton and President Obama, the NRA wrote, “Let’s get something straight: The NRA doesn’t lie. The NRA tells the truth, no matter how unpopular, how politically incorrect or how much the truth might offend those who fear or hate freedom.”
LaPierre made similar remarks during his March 3 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, claiming, “At a time when all of us are bombarded with media agenda, their web of spin and political conniving, the very best, most effective and surest way to defend freedom is found in those four little words: Thou Shalt Not Lie” and that “History proves that if you give the American people the straight truth, they will choose honest freedom every time. That is why, for decades, the NRA has been the guiding light for American gun owners and those who treasure our constitutional freedom. … We’ve been exposing the liars about our freedom for decades, telling the truth that most Americans know in their hearts to be right.” In sum, LaPierre referenced “the truth” 11 times during his speech.
LaPierre spoke on the same theme during a March 23 address to Liberty University, claiming, “The lies go on and on, an epidemic of untruth at the highest levels of our country. Everybody spins a fabric of lies, and the American public sits out there and goes, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s got to stop!’ Yet when someone does tell the truth, they get clobbered. It’s all upside-down. Lies seem normal and the truth seems like bizarre, crazy talk.”
What the NRA has said about its endorsement of Trump also speaks to the organization’s dishonesty.
While the NRA’s endorsement of Trump -- given his willingness to adopt the NRA’s extreme agenda -- makes sense, NRA top lobbyist Cox attempted to sugarcoat the endorsement for members, calling the decision “easy” and claiming “show me a Republican presidential nominee in our lifetimes, or for that matter, in the past 100 years, who has spoken so forcefully about not only the right to own a gun, but the right to use it to defend yourself.”
This is the same presumptive nominee who said after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that NRA nemesis President Obama “spoke for me and every American in his remarks in [Newtown] Connecticut” -- remarks that sent the NRA into a still-ongoing fury.