The National Rifle Association has offered contradictory criticisms of President Obama's plan to release a series of executive actions to address gun violence. While the NRA has dismissed the actions as “not really doing anything” when talking to the media, the group has warned its members that Obama's plan represents a serious national security threat.
On January 5, Obama announced several ways his administration will attempt to reduce gun violence in response to a series of mass shootings and subsequent inaction by Congress. A large share of media coverage of Obama's move focused on the president's plan to expand background checks by clarifying what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms, although the plan also includes provisions addressing effective enforcement of existing gun laws, funding for mental health treatment, and developing gun safety technology.
The day before the plan was released, the NRA offered contradictory criticisms, one to the press and the other to its members.
On January 4, an NRA spokeswoman commented to the New York Times, saying of the plan, “This is it, really?”
A spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association said on Monday that the organization's lawyers would look at the president's proposals more closely to determine if there was anything they might go to court to challenge. But she said that at first glance the plan seemed surprisingly thin.
“This is it, really?” asked Jennifer Baker, an official with the N.R.A.'s Washington lobbying arm. “This is what they've been hyping for how long now? This is the proposal they've spent seven years putting together? They're not really doing anything.”
The same day, the NRA released a video on its NRA News network. Far from downplaying the plan as “not really doing anything,” the NRA claimed that Obama's plan to take executive action meant that he is now “our biggest threat to national security”:
According to a Media Matters review of internal video archives, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN all reported on the NRA's statement to the Times downplaying the significance of Obama's executive action, while none of these networks mentioned the NRA's unhinged messaging to its member base.