White House Releases Gun Plan as NRA Drags Obama Kids into Debate


January 16, 2013; Source: U.S. News & World Report

On the very day that the Obama administration announced its plan for reducing gun violence in the streets (and schools, movie theaters, etc.) of America’s cities, the tax-exempt 501(c)(4) National Rifle Association (NRA) released a new advertisement to express its opinions. The ad, available on the NRA website, labels President Obama a hypocrite for allowing his children to be protected by armed Secret Service agents while suggesting that armed guards in schools might not be warranted. Denouncing Obama as an “elitist hypocrite,” the ad’s voice-over asks, “Are the president’s kids more important than yours?”


The ad goes on to link President Obama’s position on gun control to the tax debate in the fiscal cliff. The NRA ad’s narrator says, “Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he’s just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security.” Doesn’t that sound like the NRA couldn’t decide if they were more upset about potential gun control legislation or the president’s tax rate hike on the top one percent of taxpayers?

If the NRA wants to bring the Obama children into the debate, that’s well within the boundaries of their First Amendment rights, but it’s not within the boundaries of most people’s notions of basic human decency. We would also guess that someone in the NRA might have a sense of why the Secret Service provides protection to the President of the United States and his family, or why assigning similar treatment to the rest of us and our children is not quite practical. In any case, this latest and nauseatingly offensive step in the NRA’s anti-gun control advocacy is all but guaranteed to backfire. It is hard to imagine Congress buckling under pressure to the NRA, particularly as people flock to gun shows where they can buy guns without going through much or anything in the way of background checks.

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The recommendations of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden involve actions requiring legislative action by Congress as well as a number of actions that can be implemented through executive order. The big-ticket items include:

  • Renewing and strengthening the ban on the sale and production of assault weapons that expired in 2004;
  • Banning the sale and production of magazines with more than 10 rounds;
  • Closing the gun show loophole by requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales;
  • Strengthening the background check system, including changes concerning legal barriers that keep some mental health records private;
  • Strengthening law enforcement crackdowns on people who evade background checks;
  • Banning the possession or transfer of armor-piercing bullets;
  • Strengthening controls against legal purchasers who give or sell guns to criminals;
  • Launching a federal campaign about safe and responsible gun ownership;
  • Examining new technologies for gun safety;
  • “Launch[ing] a national dialogue” on mental health; and
  • Lifting a ban that prevents the Centers for Disease Control from doing research on gun violence.

It’s not quite clear what is so detestful to the NRA about these proposals. The president’s gun control agenda will still leave some 300 million guns in the hands of the 320 million people in this nation. The NRA has come a long way from its origins under Civil War general Amos Burnside, who was concerned about teaching marksmanship after having watched soldiers unable to shoot straight. Even if one thought the organization had lost its moorings in recent decades and gravitated toward an honored space among wingnuts, the new ad dragging Sasha and Malia Obama into the debate suggests that the NRA has really fallen off the deep end of the pool. —Rick Cohen

  • Sue Hoechstetter

    Nicely said, Rick. Here’s hoping that steps to control guns include getting a director of the ATF approved. Congress has not done so, leaving this agency with some gun enforcement responsibilities without a leader for the last six years, according to John Stewart (a primary source of news for me, like many Americans) last night.

  • Common Sense

    I sure hope the reader of this understand Rick Cohen’s liberal bias. This article and its tone are typical of Rick and his fellow liberal media hacks who tell one small part of the story — the part that is propaganda.

    While the hypocrites of the media, hollywood and the white house make sure they have armed guards at their sides, they want the “common” citizen to be banned from those same rights. Wow! The Georgia mother who had to shoot an intruder who searched her out of her hiding place in her own home while protecting her two children does not seem to have the same rights as obama. Wow! Obama wants his family protected by armed guards for the rest of their lives but wants to limit everyone elses ability to protect themselves and their families. Wow indeed.

    Rick you and your ilk are the true problem with America.

  • Keith Oberg

    The NRA is shameless to draw the President’s children into this debate, and the premise is ridiculous on its face. Is the NRA suggesting that the President’s children attend school without Secret Service protection? Come on!

    And let’s be clear on the fiscal and physical inanity of proposals to place armed guards in schools…anyone wanting to harm children have plenty of other opportunities to do so. Must we place armed guards on school buses? And at each bus stop where children and parents congregate? There would be no end to the militarization of the country.

  • Robert Houston

    A president’s children require protection in the same manner that Fort Knox needs protection. To imply that a president’s child has the same risk-to-kidnapping and violence as any other kid in America is absurd. NRA is going to embarrass itself in this debate.

  • TRPChicago

    The NRA’s 501 c(4) arm is a political group. As such, I do not think it is tax-exempt. The NRA’s educational “charity” runs as a 501 c(3) outfit. That is the group that is tax exempt.

    Check that, if you will, because the implications are significant and it bears careful journalism and analysis. For example, contributions to a 501 c(4) are unlimited and contributors need not be identified.

  • rick cohen

    contributions to a c3 also do not need to be identfied. a c4 is tax exempt, but donations to it are not tax deductible, though donations to a c3 are.