NRA rebuts Obama's inaugural address
Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA, angrily criticized Obama for his declaration that “we cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as a reasoned debate.” LaPierre interpreted the president’s comment as a reference to the NRA’s fierce opposition to any new gun regulations.
“Absolutes do exist, it’s the basis of all civilization,” LaPierre said, speaking at the annual Weatherby International Hunting and Conservation Awards in Reno, Nev. “Without those absolutes, Democracy decays into nothing more than two wolves and one lamb voting on who to eat for lunch.”
The NRA executive then accused the president of debasing the US Constitution with his attack on absolutism, thereby reducing it to “a blank slate for anyone’s graffiti”, since principles can be changed depending on how someone chooses to define them.
“Obama wants to turn the idea of absolutism into a dirty word – just another word for extremism,” LaPierre said, explaining that absolutism is a virtue that ensures constitutional rights – especially for gun owners and members of the NRA. Redefining words is a way of turning common sense upside down, he explained.
LaPierre then proceeded to criticize the president’s stance on gun control, arguing that universal background checks would prevent families from handing guns down to their children and claiming that this system would further diminish American freedoms. He also argued that all American citizens should have the same right to defend themselves with semi-automatic weapons “that government leaders reserve for themselves.”
“[Obama] wants to put every private, personal firearms transaction right under the thumb of the federal government,” LaPierre said. “He wants to keep all of those names in a massive federal registry. There’s only two reasons for a federal list on gun owners: to either tax ‘em or take ‘em. That’s the only reasons. And anyone who says that’s excessive, President Obama says that’s an absolutist.”
But some of LaPierre’s arguments were based on inaccurate claims. The Obama administration has not pursued a universal list of gun owners, but has instead sought to require all those who want to buy a gun to undergo a federal background check to prevent firearms from falling into the hands of criminals or the mentally ill.
Returning to Obama’s inaugural address, LaPierre told his audience that Obama “makes a mockery” of the Declaration of Independence and ridicules the idea of “unalienable rights”.
“Words have meanings, Mr. President, and those meanings are absolute,” he said, before quoting former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black and praising him for understanding “the danger of self-appointed arbiters”. But in 1939, Black ruled that the Second Amendment does not give citizens access to any type of firearm – a stance that contradicts the one held by the NRA.