The National Rifle Association claims its mission is to protect and defend constitutional freedoms. Yet with a recent advertisement that says the NRA is "coming for" the New York Times, the organization does just the opposite.
"We the people have had it," NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch says in the ad.
"We've had it with your narratives, your propaganda, your fake news.
We've had it with your constant protection of your Democrat overlords. Your refusal to acknowledge any truth that upsets the fragile construct that you believe is real life … We're going to fisk the New York Times and find out just what deep rich means to this old gray hag… In short, we're coming for you."
While Loesch claims her intention was to tell the Times that the NRA would be fact checking the newspaper's content — that's why she said she used the word fisk — don't be fooled. When an organization that claims to have millions of armed members says, "we're coming for you," that is a physical threat. But more than that, it is a threat to the very Constitution the NRA has sworn to defend.
Because while I believe the NRA loves that the Constitution's Second Amendment allows Americans to bear the arms that have made gun manufacturers wealthy, I also believe the NRA hates that the Constitution allows for a free and unfettered press. That's because a truly free press can expose the NRA for what it is — a right-wing organization that used racial and religious bigotry to help gun manufacturers sell 27 million firearms to Americans in 2016.
If the NRA loved the Constitution, it would have spoken out forcefully for licensed black gun owner Philando Castile, who was gunned down by a police officer while legally exercising his Second Amendment right to bear arms. The NRA would have pointed out that Castile did not receive the equal protection that is promised in the 14th Amendment. Or perhaps the NRA would have encouraged people to exercise their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Instead, the NRA issued mealy-mouthed statements that never truly condemned the actions of an officer who killed a law-abiding gun owner and was subsequently fired but never convicted of a crime. When asked about the NRA's stance on Castile on Fox News, Loesch defended the organization.
"I'm on Twitter," Loesch said. "I mean you can always reach out to someone and ask for a statement, and I have remarked on this and the NRA has issued a statement on Philando Castile, as well. And personally I've spoken out about this on radio, and I've spoken out about it on Twitter. So I think for anyone to say that the NRA has not been present on this issue, I think they're willfully not listening."
I took Loesch at her word and reached out to her on Twitter to ask for that statement in which the NRA spoke out on Castile's death. There was no response by press time.
That's not surprising. The NRA, while claiming to represent "We the people," instead represents we the gun manufacturers. And it will use any tack to promote the sale of guns, even if it has to push unconstitutional practices along the way.
The NRA did so in the wake of terror attacks that rocked London, suggesting that the answer to terrorism is monitoring mosques in the United States. Such monitoring of law-abiding citizens is at odds with the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom.
But when you're in the business of stirring up fear to boost gun sales, Constitutional guarantees mean little. That includes the guarantee of a free press.
The NRA — which suggested arming teachers in response to the shooting deaths of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School — is an organization whose ruthlessness knows no bounds.
The NRA has shown an amazing proclivity for remaining virtually silent on the deaths those who are different, those who are young, and those who are vulnerable. It has shown a stunning willingness to buy right-wing politicians while pushing an agenda that is equal parts money and blood.
Thus the NRA, while proclaiming itself to be the clenched fist of truth, has proved to be nothing more than another organization that benefits from the suffering of others.
Without a free and unfettered press to shine light into the dark corners of such an organization, there can be no liberty. There can only be the fear that drives Americans to suspect one another, to buy more guns, and to kill more people.
That's not the country in which I want to live. That's why America's free press must expose the activities of those who would manipulate us with fear.