This week, at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, one of the most influential figures within the all-powerful American gun lobby, took to the stage to praise Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and attack his likely general election opponent, Hillary Clinton.
LaPierre took some time to demonize local reforms in places like Virginia and Maryland which restored voting rights to thousands of convicted felons:
There’s no limit as to how far the elites will go to put Hillary into the White House. They’re even allowing convicted felons the right to vote, including violent rapists and murderers. Sounds outrageous but it’s true. The Democratic-led Maryland General Assembly did it for 44,000 ex-cons. In Virginia, Democratic Governor Terry McAullife, Hillary’s longtime bag man, did it for 206,000 convicted felons. Tentacles of the Clinton machine are out registering those felons right now. They’re releasing them and then they’re registering them. Heck, when they sign their release papers, they might as well, at the prison door, be standing there giving them a Hillary Clinton bumper sticker. It’s unbelievable.
Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, joined in on the fun, calling out Clinton and other Democrats who expressed support for restore the right to vote for convicted felons:
You fought to give voting rights, voting rights, to violent felons and crack dealers,” he said. “We fight for the innocent people they terrorize.
The origin of laws prohibiting felons from voting date back to after the Civil War. These laws were passed along with black codes and vagrancy laws with the purpose of suppressing the political and economic power of freed black slaves.
Today an estimated 5.85 million Americans can’t vote because of current or previous felony convictions and about 1 in 13 African American adults are disenfranchised because of these laws.
Kentucky, which was the host state of the NRA’s meeting this year, happens to have some of the most restrictive felon voting laws in the U.S. Felons are prohibited from voting for life unless they are pardoned by the Governor, which rarely happens.
Republicans and the NRA believe that felons are more likely to vote for Democrats. Therefore, they fight tooth and nail to make sure they are disenfranchised from the process. Donald Trump, who the NRA endorsed on Friday, characterized Virginia’s voting rights restoration “crooked politics.” And Virginia Republican lawmakers in the state legislature plan to sue to keep felons from being able to vote in November. They claim that Governor Terry McAuliffe only restored voting rights to felons as a favor to the Clintons.
On the flipside, the NRA lobbies to restore gun rights to the same “violent felons, rapists, murderers, and crack dealers” that they urge to keep out of the voting booths.
Over the years, the NRA and it’s puppet lawmakers have quietly fought to restore gun rights to ex-felons. One example is the state of Colorado, where Republican legislators tried to loosen local gun laws. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) proposed an amendment that would restore gun ownership rights to all ex-felons who file a petition with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives. Buck rationalized this proposal, stating:
America is a land of second chances,” Buck said on the House floor in support of the legislation. “One mistake should not define your future.
Buck’s amendment failed, but the NRA continues similar efforts throughout the country.
Combined with their fervent opposition to closing gun show loopholes and background checks, the NRA’s game plan is simple. Make sure the “bad guys with guns” can get guns legally and illegally, so they can continue to scare the hell out of there gullible members. And scared gun owners tend to buy more guns and ammo, which helps the stock of gun manufacturers with whom NRA executives conveniently have own shares of stock.
Fear merchants like LaPierre need to convince NRA members that the “liberal media” will never tell the “truth” about guns. Anyone who reports non-NRA approved facts are challenged and attacked. It’s all a part of a cynical game of death that the NRA and it’s co-conspirators have learned to profit from handsomely at the expense of innocent lives.
Featured image mashup Screengrab via YouTube.