What's The NRA's Take On The Shooting In Las Vegas?

We asked them, and then checked out their Twitter.

As details about the mass shooting in Las Vegas continue to emerge, Americans, politicians, lawmakers, and activists turned to the most well-known gun group for some kind of response: the National Rifle Association (NRA).

But rather than offer condolences, statements, or engage in the gun control debate like most gun-related organizations are doing, the NRA has gone dark. Their usually active Twitter and Facebook feeds haven't made a single post since the shooting, and they haven't publicly spoken to any news organizations regarding the tragedy, including A Plus.

The NRA Twitter account posted or retweeted 11 things on September 29, but it hasn't posted once in the five days since. A Plus reached out via telephone and email and was assured that our questions were received, but have not received a response from any NRA representatives as of publication. The last tweet from the NRA promoted an event in New York.

"The gun lobby's silence in the aftermath of this tragedy speaks volumes," Peter Ambler, Americans for Responsible Solutions' executive director, told A Plus in statement.

It's not the first time the NRA has employed this strategy, either. After the Sandy Hook school shooting, the NRA shut down its Facebook page amidst criticism and didn't make public statements for almost a week. When the organization finally did, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre spent more time blaming rap music and the absence of armed security guards at the school than any gun laws.

"The basic NRA response to high-profile mass shootings is to go dark, say nothing for as long as possible," Josh Sugarmann, the executive director of the gun control group Violence Policy Center, told POLITICO

A former NRA lobbyist named Richard Feldman added to POLITICO that the group is probably trying to figure out more about the shooter, who they will inevitably pin the focus on. 

An NRA affiliate reached for comment by VICE emphasized the importance of finding "out what really happened."

"When someone has that kind of mentality, it doesn't matter what kind of laws you have," Don Turner, president of the Nevada Firearms Coalition, told a VICE reporter after being informed of the shooting. "In the emotion of the moment, there's a tendency to push anti-gun agendas."

The decision to focus on the mindset of the shooter makes sense from a public relations standpoint, but still. Shouldn't the largest group of gun advocates in the country be front and center in this debate after yet another mass shooting? More than 1,500 mass shootings have happened in America since the Sandy Hook massacre, according to Vox. That's quite a number of opportunities for the NRA to take the lead on offering a solution to the problem, but so far they have opted for avoiding the spotlight altogether.

Part of the issue is that the NRA is in a politically precarious spot. According to Politico, 27 representatives — all of them Republican — have received more than $100,000 from the NRA since 1990. Critics have suggested that the NRA's political donations have kept gun laws lax, helping the United States become more saturated with firearms than any other nation on earth. The United States has almost half of all the world's guns, and only 4.4 percent of the population.

And, per Vox, Americans in states with more guns are also more likely to be killed by a gun.

An early September post on the NRA's Instagram.

"If I was still in the business of giving the NRA advice, it would be to go dark, stay quiet. They're going to be blasted for whatever they say, that they're either doing the wrong thing or they're not doing enough," Feldman told POLITICO. "That's the best among a series of bad choices at the moment."

The NRA isn't the only one with choices, though. 

This week, Congress is set to vote on a bill that's widely being described as a loosening of gun regulations, particularly those around the sale of silencers. Critics say silencers are exactly that kind of accessory that could have led to a much deadlier outcome in the already tragic Las Vegas shooting. 

As David Frum pointed out in The Atlantic, this is nothing new. It's a misnomer to suggest "nothing happens" after major gun tragedies; what usually happens is gun regulations get looser, not stricter. 

Some activists want gun control to be the top priority for lawmakers. If the NRA has a better idea on how to stop the epidemic of gun violence, now would be a great time to share it. 

And if not, organizations like Americans for Responsible Solutions will continue their advocacy.

"Regardless of their response, we remain focused on pushing our elected leaders to summon the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and stand with the overwhelming majority of Americans who support common-sense laws that will help prevent future tragedies like the one that occurred in Las Vegas last weekend," Ambler told A Plus.

Update: On Thursday afternoon, the NRA issued its first statement since the shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

"In the aftermath of the evil and senseless attack in Las Vegas, the American people are looking for answers as to how future tragedies can be prevented.  Unfortunately, the first response from some politicians has been to call for more gun control. Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks. This is a fact that has been proven time and again in countries across the world. In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved. Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.  The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations. In an increasingly dangerous world, the NRA remains focused on our mission: strengthening Americans' Second Amendment freedom to defend themselves, their families and their communities.  To that end, on behalf of our five million members across the country, we urge Congress to pass National Right-to-Carry reciprocity, which will allow law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families from acts of violence."


Cover image: Shuttestock / ja-images

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