Despite its “rule of law” statement following the January 6 coup, the NRA has a long history of promoting insurrection

Following the armed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the National Rifle Association posted a statement to Twitter on January 15 condemning “all unlawful acts” and encouraging everyone to “respect the rule of law,” even though it has spent years promoting insurrectionism.

The NRA issued its statement nine days after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol during the Senate vote to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win over Trump. The statement also comes as law enforcement across the country are bracing for potentially violent riots today as Biden is inaugurated. 

Despite this half-hearted condemnation, the NRA and its board members have spent years promoting and fomenting ideas of insurrection, often with violent rhetoric:

  • An NRA board member laughed at the idea of shooting a Democratic politician. In October, NRA board member Bill Bachenberg, who also served as co-chair of an official Trump campaign group, Sportsmen for Trump, laughed as audience members at his “Patriots for Trump” fundraising event responded to his speech with threats to shoot a Democratic politician. [Media Matters, 10/26/20
  • NRA board member encouraged people to protest pandemic rule because the government “can’t arrest all of us.” In a series of Facebook live videos in April, NRA board member Anthony Colandro encouraged people to protest New Jersey’s COVID-19 mandates in order to show the state’s governor “how upset we are,” before telling his followers that the “state police can’t arrest all of us.” [Media Matters, 4/30/20]
  • NRA rallied support for Oregon state senator who threatened to shoot law enforcement. After an Oregon state senator walked out of a vote on a climate change bill and threatened to shoot any law enforcement the governor sent to collect the missing Republican legislators who were refusing to vote on the bill, the NRA’s lobbying arm sent out an alert asking members to thank the senator for standing strong. [Media Matters, 6/21/19]
  • NRA board member Ted Nugent: Democrats are like “rabid coyotes. … Every time you see one, shoot one.” In 2018, longtime NRA board member Ted Nugent told conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that Democrats are like “rabid coyotes running around. You don’t wait till you see one to go get your gun. Keep your gun handy, and every time you see one, you shoot one.” [Genesis Communications Networks, The Alex Jones Show, 4/6/18]
  • Nugent called for President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to be hanged over Benghazi. In a January 2019 Facebook post, Nugent wrote that Obama and Clinton “should be tried for treason & hung” for the 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. embassy in Benghazi. [Media Matters, 1/2016]
  • The NRA promoted an article suggesting Democrats will be hanged. The NRA shared an October 17, 2015, article that suggested Democrats will start a civil war by trying to confiscate all the guns and the “survivors of the Democrat rebellion” will be hanged. [Media Matters, 10/21/15
  • The NRA went to bat for a sheriff who warned that gun safety laws will lead to a civil war. The NRA’s now-defunct broadcast platform defended a Maryland sheriff who said in 2014 that any enforcement of gun safety laws could result in a civil war between his county and the federal government. The NRA’s media arm said critics of the sheriff were just trying to “silence” him. [Media Matters, 10/9/14]  
  • NRA Executive Vice President President Wayne LaPierre: Americans are buying guns because of “reckless government actions” and because the “entire fabric of society” is in “jeopardy.” During his speech at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the NRA’s Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said Americans are buying guns and ammunition because “when government corrupts the truth and breaks faith with the American people, the entire fabric of society, everything we believe in and count on, is then in jeopardy.” [Media Matters, 3/6/14
  • LaPierre: The purpose of the Second Amendment is to fight the government’s “tyranny.” During a 2013 U.S. Senate hearing, LaPierre said that “I think without any doubt, if you look at why our founding fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny.” [HuffPost, 2/4/13]
  • Nugent: If Obama gets to pick Supreme Court justices, “I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” During an appearance at the 2012 NRA annual meeting, Nugent ranted about left-leaning Supreme Court justices, saying, “If you want more of those kinds of evil, anti-American people in the Supreme Court, then don’t get involved and let Obama take office again. Because I’ll tell you this right now, if Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” Nugent went on to call gun owners “Braveheart” and, when referring to Democrats during the election, said we need to “ride into the battlefield and chop their heads off in November.” [YouTube, accessed 1/19/21]
  • LaPierre: “Our Founding Fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules.” During his 2009 speech at CPAC, LaPierre said that “the guys with the guns make the rules” and “that freedom always rides with a firearm by its side.” [YouTube, accessed 1/19/21]