“NRA leadership protects mainstream American values.”
The extremist worldview of the far right is built around grievances and conspiracy theories. For these groups and radicalized individuals, guns are essential tools for violence and intimidation, as well as a topic around which to organize to advocate against any limit to gun rights.
The NRA has leveraged that political activism to its own ends, amplifying these grievances, particularly those which hinge on the protection of lax gun laws. As far back as the early 1990s, the NRA was spreading conspiracy theories about civilian disarmament to oppose efforts to regulate firearms, including the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.1The NRA claimed that “when Bill Clinton signed the Brady bill into law… a drop of blood dripped from the finger of the sovereign American citizen.” Soon after, the cover story of American Rifleman was headlined “Stop The Rape of Liberty” and featured an illustration of the Statue of Liberty being sexually assaulted by a man who had his hand over her mouth. The accompanying story warned that it had been “the worst year for gun rights in Second Amendment history.” See Everytown Research, “Armed and Dangerous,” September 30, 2020, https://everytownresearch.org/report/extreme-right/. In recent years, the NRA launched its own online propaganda video network, NRATV. Hour after hour, NRATV broadcast fear-mongering, conspiracy theories, and thinly veiled racism. The content was so toxic that even the NRA admitted, after it shuttered the operation, that the network was “viewed as a dystopian cultural rant” that even “some NRA leaders found distasteful and racist.”2Amended Complaint, National Rifle Association of America v. Ackerman McQueen, Inc., US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, October 25, 2019, https://nrawatch.org/filing/nras-amended-complaint/. Far right extremists like the Oath Keepers and Alex Jones praised the content on the channel.3“Sandy Hook truther Alex Jones praises the NRA’s “more hardcore” direction following release of inflammatory ad”, Media Matters for America, July 11, 2017, https://www.mediamatters.org/alex-jones/sandy-hook-truther-alex-jones-praises-nras-more-hardcore-direction-following-release. One NRA board member was recently revealed to be listed on the membership rolls of the Oath Keepers.4Tim Dickinson, “Meet the Oath Keeper on the NRA’s Board of Directors”, Rolling Stone, November 5, 2021, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/nra-board-oath-keeper-ties-january6-1253376/.