The National Rifle Association has been keeping America safe for firearms ownership since 1871. It would be unfair and mathematically improbable to presume that the NRA’s 4.25 (self-accounted) million members contain a higher percentage of callous zealots than any other politically affiliated organization.
Still, decision makers at the NRA top levels appear to have lost their compass of social acceptability.
If it’s nurturing any ambitions of being taken as a serious voice of reason, the organization, to coin a cliché, has shot itself in the foot twice in the past week.
Sunday, January 13, marked the release of “NRA: Practice Range,” a first-person shooting game for mobile devices.
The game’s graphics, pictured above, reward players for placing heart and head shots into upended coffins marked with red kill spots.
The free game arrived just in time to enflame the politicized national debate over how to curtail the country’s plague of gun violence, a debate spurred by the December 14, 2012, massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six adults by a single gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
On optics alone, “NRA Practice Range,” which has a shooter pumping bullets into encased corpses, could be interpreted as, to use a mild term, insensitive. For many people in the nation, the visions of child-size coffins being mourned over in Newtown are still far too fresh to allow any enjoyment to be derived from the interplay of caskets and guns.
To add outrage to horror, “NRA Practice Range” was labeled as appropriate for players aged four years and up.
On the positive side, the NRA is not fully tone deaf to public outcry—on Tuesday the age recommendation for “NRA Practice Range” was raised to 12 and up.
Also on Tuesday, the NRA released a video that promotes dramatically increasing the number of people attending American schools who carry guns.
The video brands President Barack Obama an “elitist hypocrite” based on his ability to be skeptical about pumping loaded firearms onto American campuses while simultaneously “his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools.”
The video tacitly insists that viewers ignore a self-evident truth: That assigning Secret Service details to offspring of the United States president is a necessary obligation of national security.
Ignoring obvious realities that stand in the course of a train of thought is an exercise in delusion. Any trail of logic that follows that delusion is derailed, which explains, but does not justify, the video’s conclusion that Americans calling for solutions to gun violence want “Protection for their kids, and gun-free zones for ours.”
When zealots are in charge of presenting an organization’s public face, polarizing masks, no matter how illogical or insensitive, should come as no surprise.
What might be surprising—and pleasantly so—would be a roll call of NRA members who are willing to stand and take the pledge against gun violence.
Those numbers just might be high enough that there would be no “elitist hypocrite” among them.
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