Slatest PM: The NRA Plays the Blame Game

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 21 2012 4:12 PM

Slatest PM: The NRA Plays the Blame Game

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A security guard sits in front of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre as he called on Congress to pass a law putting armed police officers in every school in America during Friday's news conference

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

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The NRA Speaks, But Most Don't Like What It Says: The National Rifle Association broke its week-long silence this morning to call on lawmakers to offer an armed guard to every school in America to prevent tragic school shootings like the one that killed 26 people in Newtown last week. "The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection," CEO and executive VP Wayne LaPierre said at high-profile and combative press conference in Washington, D.C. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

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Not Trying to Make Friends: The proposal appears designed to appeal to the pro-gun lobby's base, and not to the growing number of lawmakers who have suggested their openness to more gun control, likely beginning with additional restrictions on assault weapons.

Spreading the Blame Around: LaPierre waited until roughly 20 minutes into his press conference to unveil his school-guard proposal, dubbed the "National School Shield" program. Before he got to it, however, he cast blame on "blood-soaked films" and "vicious, violent video games" for poisoning our culture, and on lawmakers behind gun-free school zones and the "national media machine" for demonizing firearms and putting the nation's children at risk.

More Gun Control Coverage From Slate:

The NRA's Emperor Has No Clothes: The New Republic's Alec MacGillis: "For two decades now, the legend of the National Rifle Association has grown in Washington. They were the most feared lobby of all .... But this cloak of power was stripped away today at NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre's press conference on the Newtown shootings, revealing the NRA as a lobby with no clothes, or at least nothing but a holster strapped to the ankle. ... [T]his was the first time many in Washington and across the country had actually focused squarely on him and his organization in a long time, and this newfound focus, combined with the post-Newtown context in which LaPierre was speaking, was enough to make the NRA seem utterly, surreally amateurish and out of touch. You could all but hear the question rising around Washington: We've been letting ourselves be led around by these guys?"

It's Friday, welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

Programming Note: @JoshVoorhees is heading on vacation for the holidays. As a result, your next Slatest PM newsletter will be on January 2, 2013. In the meantime, The Slatest blog will stay up and running—manned by a variety of guests hosts—and the Slatest AM newsletter will continue on non-holiday weekdays.

John Kerry's Dreams Come True: Washington Post: "President Obama nominated Sen. John F. Kerry on Friday to be the next secretary of state, saying that 'in a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role.' Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his selection all but guarantees a swift, smooth path to confirmation. The lawmaker has been a frequent foreign policy adviser and confidant to Obama, and his five terms in Congress have gained him bipartisan advocates in the Senate."

Instant Analysis: John Kerry could be a great secretary of state. The question is whether President Obama wants him to be. Slate's Fred Kaplan explains.

About The Cliff: New York Times: "[A]s the day dawned, officials at the White House remained as incredulous and bewildered as the rest of Washington after Speaker John A. Boehner, short of votes from his Republican majority, was forced to cancel Thursday’s vote on what he called his 'Plan B.' ... Now Mr. Obama is looking for his own Plan B, just four days before Christmas and 10 days before a deadline .... Officials in the administration and Congress, and in both parties, suggested the likeliest route was for Mr. Obama to seek a bipartisan accord with Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who is the Senate majority leader, and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican minority leader, and hope that it could get through the House under deadline pressure."

Hagel Makes Amends: Washington Post: "Former senator Chuck Hagel has issued a statement retracting his 1998 comments about a gay ambassadorial nominee. Hagel’s potential nomination to be President Obama’s new defense secretary has come under fire due in part to his concerns, published during a debate over the nomination of James Hormel to be ambassador to Luxembourg, that Hormel was 'openly aggressively gay.' 'My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive,' Hagel said. 'They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights.' ... In response, Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization that previously deemed Hagel’s comments 'unacceptable,' has now embraced the potential Obama administration nominee."

More Quick Hits From Slate

Happy Holidays! See you back here in 2013. But, until then, tell your friends to subscribe, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.