All In   |  May 03, 2013

The NRA moves dangerously far to the right

The NRA is supposed to be a nonprofit, nonpartisan group. But recently, it has been taking on the characteristics of a right-wing fringe organization. Chris Hayes discusses the issue with NRA member Eryn Sepp.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in" with chris hayes starts now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes . tonight on "all in" if you think the tea party went away, think again friends. they are still here and still trying to kill obama care. while the cable world was hyper ventilating about reese witherspoon 's arrest, i will tell you about the stories that got shafted in click 3. and the probably ill advised victory lap going on right now in houston, texas. the annual meeting and exhibition is in full swing tonight and one of the clear themes to emerge among the star-studded cast among convention speakers was victory. victory over the expansion background checks for gun buyers which went down last month fo under a filibuster. the nra was itself, let's remember, invited to help negotiate and politely ending the proposal and putting everything it had into defeating it. that was a semi impressive an gross party trick on the part of the nra , but a trick they are incredibly proud of today.

>> you fought and you beat president obama 's misguided gun control proposals. h package that would have undermined in washington looked like an unstoppable freight train .

>> can you point to what you just accomplished over the last few months bb when the entire tide of the national media and population culture was trying to erode a fundamental freedom.

>> nra helped kill the expansion of background checks proposed in the senate last month and yes, that proposal small and popular and seemed at first likely to pass. this is not the big victory of tonight's nra speakers seem to think it is. quite the opposite, in fact. celebrating the victory of killing background checks last month is a narrative in which the story ends last month. but story did not end last month. we learned by public policy polling that a half dozen senators from both parties who voted with the nra to kill background checks are suffering in the polls a as a result. the president, vice president and top senate behind the bill all vowed to press forward. and here is the strategic problem for the nra as this political fight continues. the nra purports to be a nonpartisan group. that's where their power lies. keeping democrats in parts of the country with high gun ownership afraid to cost them. that's something the nra in past has been successful add. until reisn'tly, he is not harry reid , endorsed for reelection and endorsed in 2004 and the same year he did not support extending the assault weapons ban and the nra didn't enforce him in 2010 , still had a b rating from them. a major political power because they've been able to hold sway over moderate red and purple state democrats like harry reid . but as nt ra becomes more and more clearly a partisan right wing organization it loses sway over not only harry reids but moderate republicans taking hits for towing the increasingly unpopular nra line. people are recognizing that the nra is not a nonpartisan organization. is a creature of the american political right, interested in victories by the american political right. it grows out of the culture of the american political right and embraces fringe margins of the american political right. if you want tangible evidence of that, just look at who is speaking at tonight's conference. rick perry , ted cruz , john bolton , seriously, rick santorum , paul ryan , sarah palin , scott walker . this could be the lineup for the closing night of cpacc. sarah palin showed up with pretty much the same information she had in her cpac speech.

>> the mayor trying to -- last time i saw my friend at the nra convention i was on stage doing a speech using a visual image to make a point about the big gulp ban. i took a sip of a big gulp . now i see that the mayor of new york now wants to ban public displays of legal tobacco product. can you i -- sorry. i tell ya. don't make me do it.

>> and that is a pretty hilarious performance trick. of coarse the last time she saw her friends at nra conference was cpac this year. just another stop on the right wing road show . it is clear that this is not some broad nonpartisan second amendment movement. this is a far right fringe movement full of exactly the kind of nongun related pet causes would you expect to hear from any other far right fringe movement.

>> most of all, thank you to so many people o there who helped us out in the recall election last june.

>> i want to thank the governor of the nra for standing with me last year.

>> the governor wanted to transform america.

>> this president promised americans hope and change when he first ran for office. instead he is giving us borrow and spend.

>> the war on terrorism is far from over. first in benghazi on september 11th .

>> for some reason the obama liberals want it disregard the tenth amendment and are trying to implement obama care and take away our liberties.

>> forcing people against their will to purchase healthcare policies that are against their relingous beliefs.

>> he doesn't believe we can trust americanes it make smart healthcare choices.

>> when the mainstream media stays silent, what a monstrous mass murderer of innocent babies finally goes to trial, they stay silent? they are helping freedom destroy itself.

>> you'll notice, there was nothing in that montage about guns at all. the nra 's power depends on channeling the mainstream of gun ownership in america. don't confuse the 10 million gun owners with the gang on stage. while they did win the short term victory, that bill could prove to be the nra 's undoing. it is a classic wedge issue vote in that it separated the nra from mainstream gun owners . if they lean into that vote as they appear to be doing, and mistake it for victory, they might spell their own demise. americans will see them for wh they are, a right wing fringe organization. raerng than the mainstream representative of governors everywhere they become less powerful. nothing better exemplifies that shift than the man taking over as nra 's next president. here is a taste of his politics.

>> started by generals, who didn't like the way my southern boys had the ability to shoot, and in what we call the law of northern aggression. they call it the civil war but we call it the war of northern aggression down south. those greatest charges that we can have today is to train the civilian in the use of the standard military firearm, so when they have to fight for their country, they are toward do it. also, when they are ready to fight tyranny, they are toward do it. also, when they are ready to fight tyranny, they have the wherewithal and weapons to do it. i charge you ladies and gentlemen , that that is a very important charge for all of us to take up.

>> that is a new president of the nra . last night, i stood here and talked about a gun culture that manufacturers and designs and markets guns for kids. i got a lot of responses from people rightly pointing out there are many different kind of gun culture . gun culture is not a unified thing. the organization we are talking about tonight is theed withed to the darkest part of gun culture . the part that won't tolerate the idea that anyone would object to a 5-year-old being given a gun. that's the part of gun culture the nra represents. that the part the nra is committed to promoting and advancing. joining me tonight is aerin. she is a gun owner, veteran and nra member. it is pleasure for to you join me. i want to begin with the question, why are you an nra member?

>> chris , that's a great question. i work at a very progressive think tank in washington . people ask me that all the time. mainly people who have never touched a firearm before. i'm a veteran. i'm a gun owner. i had the pleasure of working at a civilian firearm range when i came home from iraq and didn't know what to o do with myself. i got to see both sides of it. i saw the military side of the culture where the purpose is to do violence on behalf of other americans who maybe aren't willing to pick up a firearm themselves and that's fine. and then i got see the civilian side where it was more for training and skill and marksmanship. i don't see any of that reflected in the tweets and reports coming out of the nra conference tonight. it is truly disheartening.

>> what is disheartening about it? the question here is, there's an emotional and visceral appeal to guns, gun ownership , culture, as an activity. then membership of the nra . which you have chosen to do. and you didn't answer the question of why you are a member, right? then the question of what the nra is doing politically on behalf of its members.

>> you may know that adolphus bush resigned and made a big statement in saying that. saying i'm withdrawing my lifetime membership, saying, i don't want to be a part of this any more. you said it, the nra is very powerful. i would hate to think that someone with my values about the second amendment, that it is my right to bear arms, just as it is your right or anyone else 's right it not bear arms or be affected by gun violence . i think that's the other side of it. i don't think that people like me, people who believed that there should be background checks . that is common sense as firearm sales that we should flee from the nra . if anything, we need to be more represented. even before sandy hook , reports came out that three out of four nra members support common sense background checks . so i don't really think that i'm in the minority.

>> so how -- then how is it the case, and i should say there's a hundred million gun own percent. i was off by the ten. how is it the case that nra has -- you worked for american center of american progress. you're on my little liberal television show . you're sitting here and that's not the folks in the room in houston, texas, driving the agenda for this organization. how do you close that gap?

>> i got to tell you, i'm a little concerned about the stand and fight rally that's going on tomorrow. i got to tell you, i put on the uniform, i stood, i fought, and what i want to see tomorrow isn't a rally of people saying, let's all get together and hate the other side. what i would like to see is everyone, the kind of rally i would like to see is hey, let's sit down. let's chill. let's breath and talk to the other side. the so-called gun culture isn't necessarily a culture that's reflective of me or the other gun owners that i know. it has turned into this culture of fear that they will take away our guns. that's simply not true, chris . and the other side is guilty of it too. i see web sites like stop the nra .com. coming out. and i think to myself, hey, wait a minute, i'm the nra . i want common sense background checks . i want my well regulated militia as written in the second amendment. don't try to stop me.

>> when you were working at the gun range , how much of the culture there was informed by precisely this kind of fear about the government overreach and how much of the emphasis of the culture is on the aspect of gun ownership that is about as jim porter said, being able to strike when tier any happens? the idea that guns need to be stock piled for the eventuality and we just saw a high percentage of republicans believing in armed rebellion might be necessary. how much driving the culture in the range that you worked in was a culture driven by the year of the moment when tyranny became so intense that americans had to take up arms against it?

>> well, chris , i was in los angeles . and if you know anything about los angeles and los angeles firearm regulations, it is some of the strictist in the country. maybe new york and new jersey can rival us. we gave fire instruction every saturday and sunday. it didn't affect our sales. the people there, seemed happy that -- they weren't necessarily pleased with the ten-day waiting period that is in california. but i got to tell you, it probably prevented a lot of people from coming in even making a hot-headed decision about a firearm purchase. it didn't hurt our sales any. we felt very safe. then the emphasis there was more on training and marksmanship and the art of marksmanship that i've come to love. and not on the ideologies that are clearly polar aizing. who want to come to the table with rhetoric like that?

>> eryn, if they are watching this interview and said, we should put her on take and you got to go to washington and talk to the folks, what would you tell them?

>> i think that's two different audiences for me. if i'm talking about jim porter and wayne lapierre and other gun members. to jim porter and wayne lapierre , i say, you make this as transparent as possible. we are supposed to be a nonprofit nonpartisan organization. what happened. there are people, good people, who have been affected by gun violence . there are people that haven't been affected by gun violence and they don't want to be. they want to come to the table with us right now and we need to do it. to the membership, i say, speak your mind. in whatever form that you can. take to the internet. take to the stage. and speak your mind. say like i sam saying, that we support common sense background checks . if it saves one life, it's worth it.

>> eryn sepp, nra member, iraq war vet, thank you so much for joining us.

>> thank you so much, chris .

>> more than 32,000 gun-related fatality per year. it may surprise you how two thirds of the deaths occur and why that number is getting larger. that's next. both tylenol and