National Rifle Association--Embracing Tea Partiers and Anti-Government Rhetoric--Meets in Charlotte, NC

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VPC Press Office, 202-822-8200 x110, press@vpc.org

National Rifle Association--Embracing Tea Partiers and Anti-Government Rhetoric--Meets in Charlotte, NC

Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck Featured Speakers at NRA Convention

WASHINGTON - This weekend, Tea Party advocates Sarah
Palin and
Glenn Beck will be featured speakers at the National Rifle Association's
annual convention being held in Charlotte,
NC.  Palin will be speaking
Friday at the "NRA's Celebration of American Values Leadership
Forum" while Beck will address the crowd Saturday night at the "NRA's
Celebration of American Values Freedom Experience."  According to the
NRA's website, attendees at both events will be "subject to a
magnetometer security check" for weapons.   

Palin's appearance is only the most public
example of
growing links between the NRA and the Tea Party movement.  The recently
released Violence Policy Center (VPC) study "Lessons Unlearned:  The
Gun Lobby and the Siren Song of Anti-Government Rhetoric" (http://www.vpc.org/studies/lessonsunlearned.pdf)
details NRA marketing to Tea Party supporters and reveals links in nine
states
between NRA State Election Volunteer Coordinators, the Tea Party
movement, and
other factions of the "Patriot movement."  The study also offers
examples of how the NRA is once again embracing and validating
anti-government
rhetoric. 

Josh Sugarmann,
executive
director of the Violence Policy Center and author of the book "NRA: 
Money, Firepower & Fear," states, "With the election of Barack
Obama, the NRA has returned to the dangerous anti-government rhetoric
that
defined it in the mid-1990s during the period leading up to the Oklahoma
City
bombing.  Speakers at the NRA's convention fan the flames of pro-gun
paranoia and celebrate the myth of the modern-day 'citizen-soldier,' but
never
accept responsibility for those who take these words literally and carry
out
violent acts.   It is only in the wake of horrific tragedy, like the
Oklahoma City bombing in
1995, that they feel compelled to moderate their rhetoric."  

The study finds that, echoing the language
of the resurgent
Patriot movement, the NRA routinely presents the election of Barack
Obama as a
virtually apocalyptic threat not only to gun ownership, but to the
future of
the United States
itself.

In a December 2009 direct-mail letter
echoing the language
of both the Tea Party movement and the Oath Keepers, the NRA urges the
reader
to join an "army whose highest allegiance is not to any individual or
any
political party but only to the cause of freedom."

In the letter, NRA Executive Vice President
Wayne
LaPierre--who speaking at the 2009 CPAC convention told cheering
attendees that
"our Founding Fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the
rules"--warns of "...massive armies of anti-gun, anti-freedom
radicals marshaling against us for an attack that could make every other
battle
we've ever fought look like a walk in the park...an attack aimed at
completely rewriting our nation's values and the future of our country
in
ways that you and I won't even recognize."

The organization now also markets NRA
clothing products
emblazoned with the Gadsden "Don't Tread on Me" flag, which has
become the symbol of the Tea Party movement.  The description for the
NRA
Gadsden tee shirt reads:  "What goes around comes around.  In
the late 18th century, oppressed American patriots voiced their defiance
of
tyranny by exclaiming, 'Don't Tread on Me!'  Perhaps it's time
once again for Freedom-loving citizens to rally 'round the legendary
slogan of
the famous Gadsden
flag."

The VPC study states that "the NRA incites
its members
and others, offering words that outside of the purported protective
bubble of
direct-mail and official publications would be chilling."  It cites
an August 2008 NRA direct-mail letter warning of the threat posed by a
possible
Obama administration:  "Our Constitution and our system of government
guarantee that every American has the opportunity to write his or her
name in
the history books of tomorrow--to leave his or her imprint on the fabric
of our
nation.  But in the end, history is always written only by a select
few--the few who sacrifice of themselves to fight for the causes in
which they
believe."

The study concludes, "Such language offers
benediction
to the most violent of acts...Based on past history, the overriding
concern
should be that the NRA's words may, in fact, once again be revealed as
violent prophecy."

###

The Violence Policy Center is a national tax-exempt educational organization working for a safer America through research, investigation, analysis, and advocacy. The VPC provides information to policymakers, journalists, organizations, advocates, and the general public.

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