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What is the NRA Thinking?

Needless to say, the past few weeks haven’t been great for the National Rifle Association from a PR perspective. Shortly after Wayne LaPierre’s controversial speech blaming 1990s-era video games and movies for the Sandy Hook shooting, the NRA was accused of releasing a simulated target-shooting app.

There is still some confusion over whether the game was actually issued by the NRA, or whether it was a hoax aimed at embarrassing the group. But at the moment, evidence points to the former–the game’s developer told the New York Times that it was, in fact, an officially-licensed product of the NRA. There is an easy solution to the mystery: if the game is not the NRA’s, the group could issue a statement explaining that. Its silence seems to suggest otherwise. 

That isn’t the only strange move from the gun rights lobbying group. They also released an aggressive ad about Obama’s children, calling the president an “elitist hypocrite” for opposing armed security at public schools while his own kids are protected by armed guards. It’s not that the sentiment is wrong–it’s that the ad itself isn’t politically helpful for the NRA. It comes off as fiery and partisan, during a time when many Democrats are standing up against the president’s overreach on gun control. Why intentionally antagonize Democratic allies at the very moment they’re needed most?

As Jim Geraghty noted in today’s Morning Jolt, public polling is not on Obama’s side on this issue. Americans largely support armed guards at schools, which is why the NRA’s hyper-aggressive strategy seems so unnecessary. A softer ad that focused on general child safety and stayed away from combative language would be much more helpful for the organization’s case.