The NRA's Response to the Orlando Attack Is Shameful

June 13th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

The National Rifle Association's response to last weekend's deadly shooting in Florida, which came Monday evening, traces a familiar pattern. 

The gun advocacy group spends millions on lobbying efforts each year — more than $3.5 million in 2015 — and in the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history at a gay night club in Orlando, the NRA criticized calls for more gun control, and said everyday gun-owners should not be grouped in with terrorists.

The suspect involved in the shooting, who, according to the New York Times had been monitored by the FBI for possible terrorist ties, was legally able to purchase a long gun and a pistol. There were 50 people killed, including the gunman, and 53 injured by Sunday morning.

“No one here [at the NRA media relations headquarters] was at the club,” according to Kathy, who declined to give ATTN: her full name. In a USA Today opinion, Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, wrote blamed President Barack Obama's "political correctness" for failing to stop the shooter from obtaining a weapon. 

Cox wrote that Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton "are desperate to create the illusion that they’re doing something to protect us because their policies can’t and won’t keep us safe."

Omar Mateen

In the past, as Bustle notes, the NRA's response has been more or less in character: the group "has generally gone silent for a few hours or even days before responding" to mass shootings. And when they do issue a statement, the NRA tends to echo the sentiment its Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, offered in the wake of 2012's Sandy Hook shooting: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Here's what the group has said in response to previous mass shootings.

Sandy Hook shooting: 26 dead.

Sandy Hook memorial

Calling for armed guards as a protective measure against potential mass shooters, LaPierre said at a press conference:

"If we truly cherish our kids, more than our money, more than our celebrities, more than our sports stadiums, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible. And that security is only available with properly trained, armed good guys."

San Bernardino shooting: 14 dead.


In a previous USA Today editorial, Cox said that it is a citizen's responsibility to protect him or herself against gun violence — with guns.

"Unlike the president, regular citizens are not surrounded by armed secret service agents wherever they go. When we find ourselves under attack, no one is there to protect us. That responsibility is ours and ours alone."

Virginia Tech shooting: 32 dead.

Virginia Tech

In the aftermath of the last mass shooting to hold the grim "worst ever" title, LaPierre decried politicizing the incident, according to the Huffington Post.

"There is a time and a place for the discussion, the debate, and even the argument over gun control. I believe there is a time to resume this conversation. That is not hours after an event like this takes place. I wish my opponents felt the same way."


The group's affirmative stance on the need to address gun violence has been pretty clear over the years, but it's their unwavering tactical approach that has made them the subject of so much scorn. With Monday's response, which highlighted the need to address radical terrorism, not gun laws, since the two are not the same thing, the group likely won't gain much sympathy. 

Still, there's often a notable period of silence in response to recent high profile shootings and the national conversation that they instigate — odd, for a group that claims to be "a major political force" and the country's "foremost defender of Second Amendment rights," according to its website.

Perhaps that's because the NRA has nothing new to offer. As Fusion editor Adam Weinstein observed after the Oregon community college shooting on the gun reporting site, The Trace: "Its policy position now seems so extreme that there's nowhere else to go."