Amidst the recent resignation of National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre, Jennifer Tucker has written an op-ed in CNN exploring the long-time leader’s personal legacy and the future of the NRA.
LaPierre resigned just ahead of the start of a major trial that alleges self-dealing and financial corruption at the highest level of the NRA. In the op-ed, Tucker traces the evolution of the NRA and its influence on the status of guns, gun control, and public discourse on this divisive issue in the U.S. overall over the past 30 years. She writes that LaPierre “oversaw the transformation of the NRA from its somewhat bipartisan past to its current status as a highly politicized social movement — and a political project that does not take the realities of gun violence or the need for equal protection under the criminal justice system seriously.”
LaPierre and the NRA are not entirely responsible for our country’s growing sense of vulnerability in the wake of mass shootings, police shootings of unarmed Black men and the threat of domestic terrorism. But in shaping a new set of rights and responsibilities, in which where citizens are sold the idea that private gun ownership is generally essential to be prepared to combat potential threats (and that “more guns means less crime”), they escalated the risk that even more people will be silenced, fearful, injured and killed. They moved us farther from being able to look at the distribution of harm rather than the pathologization of “bad actors.” They moved us farther from being able to approach the problem together.