“We’ve never been up against a bigger juggernaut in the history of this association.” With those words, Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, called upon NRA leaders gathered in Virginia last week to prepare for battle in this midterm election year, even as they looked back on a year of victories that the D.C. political establishment had said were unachievable.
Thirteen months ago on Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza–a depraved thug who deliberately wanted to kill innocent children–murdered his mother, Nancy Lanza, in her bed with four shots from a firearm Nancy owned. Lanza then traveled to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and used a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle (a common semi-automatic long gun) stolen from his mother to murder twenty kindergarten children and six adults.
In the aftermath of this tragedy, President Barack Obama called for a series of new gun-control laws. Political pundits from both parties considered it inevitable that significant new restrictions on American gun owners would become law.
The NRA studied the facts surrounding the shooting, which gripped every parent in the nation, and then LaPierre held a press conference. He explained that none of the gun-control measures being proposed by the White House and various lawmakers–mostly liberal Democrats–would have had any impact in stopping this tragedy, and therefore should not be the changes made to current law.
Instead, LaPierre told reporters, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Noting that close to 30 percent of schools in America already have armed security to protect their students, LaPierre called on government authorities to devote the resources to guarantee that every school in America enjoys that same protection in a new program called School Shield.
At last week’s gathering, NRA President Jim Porter went over recent polling numbers and NRA operations and summarized their findings by saying, “We are twice as popular as the president of the United States, and geometrically more popular than Congress.” Porter also noted that the NRA has seen a 25% membership increase since Obama launched his gun-control push after the Newtown tragedy, growing from less than 4 million to an all-time record of over 5 million current, dues-paying members.
LaPierre explained the surge in membership, notwithstanding unrelenting attacks on gun owners, by referring to ordinary gun owners and saying, “We’re the ones saying what they would say if they had a camera.”
He also reflected on his 35 years with the NRA, and how years ago the NRA had no choice but to attempt to communicate their side of the story to the public through mainstream outlets like the three broadcast networks and the New York Times, which would regularly edit out pro-Second Amendment arguments before publishing.
“We’re not at the mercy of them anymore,” LaPierre concluded, noting that online sources and new media outlets instead allowed the NRA to go over the heads of anti-gun editors and directly communicate with the American people.
When communicating directly with the American people, pro-gun experts and the NRA manage to persuade average Americans that professional security at schools, effectively addressing and reporting mental-health problems, and vigorously prosecuting dangerous criminals are the ways to decrease gun violence, rather than legislation that burdens law-abiding Americans but leaves criminals untouched. “We’re winning the field of ideas,” LaPierre concluded.
The NRA’s message is also resonating with both sexes. LaPierre referenced the NRA’s membership reports and noted that the number of female NRA members increased by 20 percent in 2013.
Yet the NRA expects an extremely challenging 2014 and is marshaling resources for an epic fight. The single largest factor in that fight will not be President Obama, whom the NRA humiliated last year by stopping his anti-gun laws in the Democrat-controlled Senate before it even reached the Republican-controlled House.
Instead it is Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s former mayor, whose net worth has grown to roughly $31 billion. The NRA’s chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, quoted Mark Glaze, the head of Bloomberg’s anti-gun organization (Mayors Against Illegal Guns), which is spending millions on ads attacking Second Amendment supporters and promoting anti-gun messages. Glaze told the media, “In 2012, the mayor spent about $10 million or so dipping his toe in the water. I guess we’ll find out what the whole foot looks like in 2014.”
The NRA is positioning for 2014 skirmishes over legislation and regulations at the federal and state levels. It is also examining each seat in Congress, pursuing net gains in both the U.S. House and Senate. As part of that, the NRA is talking about another recent event that most Americans never heard about.
On Dec. 13, 2013–almost one year to the day after Newtown–another criminal attempted a mass shooting–this time at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado. The shooter planned to target five classrooms for mass murder, and carried 125 rounds of ammunition.
However–consistent with the NRA’s recommendations–there was an armed deputy sheriff stationed at the school, who sprang into action when he heard the first gunshot. In 80 seconds–less than two minutes–he had cornered the shooter in the school library, where the shooter took his own life.
Tragically, the sound alerting the deputy was when an innocent 17-year old girl was shot in a hallway, who later died from her wound. But the shooter also had three Molotov cocktails and a machete. Gun-control measures would not have stopped this attack.
This shooting took place after Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper–a devoted liberal who supports gun control and is angling for a 2016 Democratic VP nomination–acknowledged on Face the Nation that the sweeping anti-gun law he had signed did nothing that would have stopped this shooter.
Instead, what could have been another Newtown horror was thwarted by a “good guy with a gun.”
Ken Klukowski is senior legal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.