AP Photo/Steve Uekert
Although the National Rifle Association successfully blocked the expansion of gun sale background checks from passing the Senate in April, the group is now facing perilous political times. Many of the senators who sided with the gun lobby to block the immensely popular measure have seen their approval ratings plummet, and the group has all but abandoned the bipartisan outreach that has allowed it to survive past backlash.
The NRA’s willingness to cater to the right-wing fringe was clearly on display over the weekend at the group’s annual convention. As NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre ranted about the Boston bombings and failed vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin waved a tin of chew in mockery of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, it became more clear than ever that the nation’s largest gun-owners group resides squarely on the far right — and far, far away from the mainstream of the country.
Here are five lowlights from the NRA convention:
Glenn Beck Depicts Mayor Bloomberg As A Nazi
Right-wing conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck gave a predictably crazy speech on Saturday, in which he showed an image of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a gun reform advocate, giving what appears to be a Nazi salute.
“We also must understand that many of our fellow citizens no longer want to accept any kind of responsibility at all,” Beck told the crowd, in a reprise of Mitt Romney’s ill-advised “47 Percent” lecture. “Thus the explanation for Michael Bloomberg in New York City.”
“I’ve come up with a new advertisement for New York, a new slogan: ‘You will love New York!'” Beck said, while showing the image. The crowd, predictably, roared.
Rick Perry, Action Hero
Texas governor Rick Perry continued his slow, steady transformation into a cartoon character with this ridiculous video introducing him to the convention.
After the video, which features slow-motion shots of Perry shooting targets to the tune of Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” and doing his best to stare pensively off into the distance, he took the stage with a fist-pump.
“Yeah!” Perry said to the cheering crowd. “Welcome to Texas!”
Jim Porter Is Elected NRA President
At the convention, the NRA welcomed its new president: longtime executive Jim Porter. As The New York Times points out, Porter has said that President Barack Obama is a “fake president,” that Eric Holder is “rabidly un-American” and joined Hillary Clinton to try “to kill the Second Amendment at the United Nations,” and that the Civil War was actually “the War of Northern Aggression.”
As improbable as it may seem, the NRA now has a leader even crazier than executive vice president Wayne LaPierre.
The NRA Promotes ‘Fun’ For The Whole Family
Photo: The Root/Twitter
On Saturday, the NRA acknowledged its youngest lifetime member, three-year-old Elaih Wagan. Her grandfather, who filled out the paperwork for her, presumably paid her dues as well.
And if one toddler in the gun club weren’t enough, the NRA hosted a “youth day” on Sunday, in which children were taught to fire weapons.
“I like it because I like the smell of gunsmoke,” five-year-old Cooper Mattison told the New York Daily News.
If NRA gun instructor Rob Pincus has his way, kids like Cooper will never be far from a firearm. He advised parents at a seminar to keep a gun safe in their children’s bedrooms, arguing that “if you’re worried that your kid is going to try to break into the safe that is in their bedroom, with a gun in it, you have bigger problems than home defense.”
Using President Obama For Target Practice
For the first two days of the convention, vendor Zombie Industries was selling a range of “life-sized” targets that “bleed when you shoot them.” The problem? These targets bear a definite resemblance to President Barack Obama.
A Zombie Industries employee told BuzzFeed that an NRA official “came by and asked us to remove” the target on the final day of the convention, because “they thought it looked too much like President Obama.”
When asked if the target was intended to resemble the president, the worker quipped, “Let’s just say I gave my Republican father one for Christmas.”