The National Rifle Association is pulling out all the stops ahead of what’s expected to be one of the largest marches of all time on Saturday, when an estimated 1 million people descend on the nation’s capital to demand stricter gun control measures.
NRA TV has been flooding its social media channels with videos criticizing the protesters under the hashtag #MarchForOurLives, the name student survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, chose for the event. Students leading the march want legislators to raise the federal age to buy a gun to 21, close background-check loopholes for gun show and online gun sales, and ban assault weapons.
"If you’re too immature to carry a firearm, you’re too immature to make policy about firearms,” said NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday evening.
At the same time, the NRA is attacking pro-gun control organizations that support the march. They’re using the Stoneman Douglas kids to further their agenda, the NRA said in Twitter videos posted on Thursday. Other videos attack the Parkland kids’ privileged backgrounds and claim their efforts will do nothing for “inner cities.”
NRA TV, the visual propaganda arm of the gun lobby organization with the slogan “Take Back the Truth,” also deployed a common strategy in its fight against the “liberal media”: criticizing its coverage. Spokespeople on the channel called out publications for failing to cover a school shooting Tuesday in which an armed school resource officer intervened to stop the gunfire. (VICE News and all major cable outlets covered the incident.)
Just hours after 17 year-old Austin Rollins, a student at Great Mills High School in St. Mary's County, Maryland, shot and injured two students and then died after exchanging gunfire with the officer, the NRA jumped on social media to praise the shooting as an example of why more “good guys with guns” in schools will prevent school shootings. It’s unclear, however, whether Rollins shot himself or was shot by the school resource officer.
“"#Maryland's dozens of gun laws & restrictions didn't work, but an armed good guy did,” NRA spokesman Grant Stinchfield tweeted on Thursday night.
One of the students injured in the shooting, 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey, died from her injuries late Thursday night. The NRA has not yet acknowledged her death.
Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor Jacklyn Corin, who’s participating in demonstrations on Saturday, tweeted her support for the students at Great Mills High School. More than 840 demonstrations for greater gun control are planned around the world in solidarity with the march on D.C.
In the month-and-a-half since the Parkland shooting, lawmakers have passed more gun control legislation than in the last decade. Florida adopted stricter gun control measures earlier this month, despite the NRA’s strong grip on the state legislature. The new law raises the minimum age for all gun purchases from 18 to 21, creates a background check waiting period for gun purchases, bans bump stocks, and allows school districts to arm school personnel.
While the federal spending bill passed by Congress early Friday morning didn’t go as far, new provisions do free up the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to study gun violence and provide funds to strengthen the federal background check system.
Cover image: NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch speaks during CPAC speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center February 22, 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press(Sipa via AP Images)