What We Must Demand From the NRA While We March

Millions of Americans are participating in a march today for a very important and specific reason: to protest one of the most influential yet scrutinized groups in this country, the National Rifle Association. Recently, the NRA has been facing a lot of criticism for their latest ad. You can view it below:

The video has a very rebellious tone with suspenseful and eerie music playing in the background. The speaker, Dana Loesch, also used incredibly violent and malicious diction by implementing words such as “assassinate,” “Hitler,” “terrorize,” and “bully” throughout the commercial. Dark undertones are also apparent due to the black and white footage shown throughout. Simply, this video will either make you feel very passionate if you agree with Loesch’s statement or angry and shocked if you do not.

I was very confused when I was watching this video solely for the reason that I did not understand what Loesch meant by the word “they.” Referring to a group of people as “they” just because they have different political views is dividing the country more and more among partisan lines. When I found out later in the video that she was referring to the Resistance, I was shocked that the NRA would try to isolate millions of Americans by calling them the enemy.

The concept of this video is to do nothing but raise fear. Videos and propaganda that create fear are dangerous in the sense that they make Americans want to rebel and act violently against other ways of thinking, just because they do not agree. There is no room for common ground in a video like this.

The video also attacks a staple in American decision making and civil rights: protests. While Loesch said in a recent interview that she is not against protests, this video did nothing at all to back that claim. Instead, during the video, the spokeswoman said the protests of the Resistance were all used to terrorize and bully others as well as to cause property damage.

The property damage argument is one of the most popular, yet misleading arguments that the right has. Most of the protests did not solicit violence. The vast, overwhelming majority of protests are peaceful. Sure, there are some protests that do get out of hand like the recent ones at UC Berkeley, but that is not every protest, and should not represent every protest. Very few people believe that violent protests are the answer, and therefore very few are violent. The massive Women’s March which took place the day after Donald Trump was not violent in any regard, and neither was the March for Truth.

The most heinous part of the video is towards the end. Loesch says that the only way to fight back is “with a clenched fist.” A fist is one of the most well-known symbols of violence, probably right behind a gun. The ending of the video does nothing but say the only thing there is to do when you disagree with someone is to attack the other side with violence.

This is why America needs this protest today. The NRA sent out a massive attack ad in order to bash all of the Resistance protests, even the peaceful ones. Peaceful protests have been an important part of our country’s history for centuries and were vital for ending wars, fighting segregation, and so much more. It would be hard to imagine life in America without them.

A recent tragic event also inspired this march: the death of legal gun owner Philando Castile, as well as the unfortunate outcome of his case. I do acknowledge that Dana Loesch has come out and spoke against this ruling in interviews. There is a problem that I have with that, however: there was no official press release, video, or major publication condemning the ruling from the NRA.

Loesch’s answer on CNN was too little too late. A legal gun owner was shot while he was retrieving his license and permit from his pocket like the officer told him to do. Is the NRA truly here for every law abiding, gun carrying citizen? I do not understand why we could not even receive a press release about this. How is his life not worth one?

As Americans, we must demand several things from the NRA. We need the NRA to apologize for this ad and for attacking something as sacred as peaceful protests. Marches are not the problem; fear mongering is. We must also call for peace when we march, with no violence from NRA members. Counterprotests should be welcome, but no “clenched fists” should be formed. It is also important that the NRA, as well as other large political organizations, make videos and other forms of media that encourage unity, instead of division. Lastly, we must demand that the NRA spends its money making commercials and campaigns that offer support for every law abiding gun owner, like Castile, instead of spending it on smear campaigns and fear mongering.

Watch the interview with Dana Loesch and Women’s March Copresident Tamika Mallory below.

Also, read this interview Mallory did for the Guardian.

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