Obama strategist slams NRA’s op-ed in The Daily Caller

Neil Munro | White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama’s top 2012 campaign strategist is attacking a fiery op-ed that was written by National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and published in The Daily Caller.

“Hard to believe this is real,” David Plouffe said in an early-evening tweet on Wednesday. “Every GOPer should read and decide if this delusional person will call the shots.”

In the op-ed, LaPierre used alarming images to rally gun-rights supporters against what he described as “the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia.”

“Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all. … Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face,” he wrote in the op-ed, titled “Stand and Fight.” (RELATED: Read the op-ed)

But LaPierre’s op-ed also coupled fear with pride, and pitched an ambitious expansion plan to make gun ownership and shooting into a mark of good character.

“It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. … It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that,” he wrote.

“I remind people every day, we are the majority. We have so much to be proud of as gun owners, shooters and freedom lovers. That pride, especially when it’s not hidden in the closet, is itself a form of protection for the Second Amendment,” he declared.

The op-ed’s determined and emotional message reflected LaPierre’s unapologetic defense of gun-owners’ legal rights, and it contrasts with Obama’s election-trail efforts to stigmatize the NRA — and also supportive GOP legislators — as complicit in horrifying gun attacks on innocent children and law-abiding middle-class people.

Many GOP and gun-rights activists believe Obama has launched a campaign to win the 2014 midterm House elections, chiefly via the use of emotional wedge issues.

Those wedge issues include what White House officials describe “gun safety” and “common-sense immigration reform.”

GOP officials say those issues are intended to split urban Republican legislators from conservative legislators, and also to spur a high turnout by suburban white women, Latinos and African-Americans. Turnout among those groups tends to be low in midterm elections.

Still, Obama has modulated his anti-NRA message to reduce alarm among gun-rights activists in GOP-leaning states. He has, for example, emphasized that people have the right to defend themselves, partly to counter the NRA’s political charge that progressives want to disarm Americans and make them dependent on government for their safety.

But even Obama’s tempered message frequently references the brutal December slaughter of 20 children in Newtown, Conn., by an single alienated youth.

“In the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun — more than a thousand,” Obama declared during his Feb. 12 State of the Union speech.

Although Obama’s “more than a thousand” claim conflated the deaths of children and adults, suicides, accidents, self-defense and murders, he used his stage in Congress to push the emotional button hard.

“One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration … a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my [Chicago] house,” he said.

Since Pendleton’s death, Chicago police arrested a young man who had earlier been freed by the local court system, despite a string of suspected crimes.

“Chicago officers arrested him in October, 2011 for carrying a loaded .38 special, but a judge sentenced him to probation for two years. And even though he’d been arrested on other charges three times during that probationary period, he remained free,” said a Feb. 13 op-ed in the Chicago Tribune.

More than 500 people — mostly African-Americans — were murdered in 2012 in Obama’s adopted hometown, making it the murder capital of the United States. Under its progressive leadership, the city sharply restricts legal ownership of guns.

Obama’s sophisticated and broad 2014 push — which is backed by most of the established media — has prompted concern among some gun-rights enthusiasts who want to deliver a soft-edged message to suburban women.

That strategy would use media advertising to showcase women who have used guns to secure themselves and their families from commonplace crimes, a gun-rights activist told TheDC. (RELATED OPINION: Guns aren’t national news when they save lives)

The campaign should be easy to design, he said, because many women are signing up for firearms lessons.

That potential power of that campaign was showcased at a Jan. 30 Senate hearing, when conservative activist Gayle Trotter rebuked Democratic senators for trying to disarm women.

“Guns make women safer… guns are the great equalizer in a violent confrontation,” she declared, adding that “every woman deserves a fighting chance.” (RELATED OPINION: Gayle Trotter explains why banning guns isn’t the answer)

LaPierre’s op-ed, however, wasn’t aimed at suburban women.

Instead, it sought to rally the NRA’s base among gun-rights supporters.

“During the second Obama term … threats are growing,” he wrote. “Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States. Phoenix is already one of the kidnapping capitals of the world, and though the states on the U.S./Mexico border may be the first places in the nation to suffer from cartel violence, by no means are they the last.”

But the alarming message also included a upbeat, hopeful pitch.

“Since the election. … Millions of Americans are using market forces like never before to demonstrate their ardent support for our firearm freedoms. That’s one of the very best ways we can Stand And Fight,” he wrote.

“The media try to make rank-and-file Americans feel guilty about buying a gun. The enemies of freedom demonize gun buyers and portray us as social lepers …. [But] we know that responsible gun ownership exemplifies what is good and right about America,” he declared.

He urged gun-rights activists to rally behind the NRA.

“Never has your membership been more important. Never has the NRA been more in need of your support … Every gun owner should be an active member of the NRA. Every gun owner should be sure that every member of his or her family is an active member. … We must reach out to the tens of millions of gun owners who are not yet NRA members—to the gun owners who care about their own rights but who have been duped by Obama and the national media into believing that the Obama and Bloomberg gun controls will only affect other people.”

LaPierre also showcased the NRA’s successes.

“Every year, shooting is becoming more and more popular, with more people engaging in the shooting sports for fun … we’ll popularize and make gun owning and shooting more mainstream than ever before [Because] we can’t win the political war if we lose the cultural war,” he wrote.

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