The twittersphere exploded with criticism of this today's (Dec. 21) National Rifle Association news conference featuring Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president.
LaPierre may have been unprepared for the swift response. After he condemned the video game and movie industry for their roles in contributing to violence in America, he addressed the assembled press, saying, "Now I can imagine the shocking headlines you'll print tomorrow …."
Twitter users were already posting their own:
"Eric Boehlert @EricBoehlert: i honestly didn't think the #NRA event would be such a colossal train wreck. but this is a slow-motion fiasco.
Dave Rubin @RubinReport: If video games made people do things I'd be a plumber eating mushrooms and jumping on turtles.
Up until today, pro-gun Twitter users have been pretty quiet. In the three days following the Sandy Hook shooting, tweets from gun control advocates outnumbered those from gun supporters by about 3 to 1, according to the Pew Research Project for Excellence in Journalism. Now that the NRA has broken its silence, social media users who are opposed to gun control measures have begun to find their voices. While it's too early to know if gun control supporters will be balanced out by opponents, tweets are landing on both sides of the issue.
The majority of Twitter users tagging their posts with #NRA have been critical of the organization. And many characterized NRA and its leader LaPierre's remarks as "deranged." But a noticeable number of NRA supporters have been speaking up.
Gabriella Hoffman @Gabriella_Hoffman: The media twists and contorts the truth. It's not surprising to see them vilify gun owners and law-biding citizens."
lynn @lynngg: Damn right! RT @ABC7: #NRApresser: "The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun" CEO Wayne LaPierre."
Jacque Diane @RHOdaciousDeuce: I agree!!!! RT @ABC7: #NRApresser: CEO LaPierre calls on Congress to put armed police officers in all schools across nation.
" Mortal Kombat ," a video game cited by LaPierre as representative of the types of games that contribute to violence in this country, continues to trend on Twitter. Users have been quick to point out that the game contains no guns, such as Matt Fernandez @FattMernandez who wrote, "Mortal Kombat was responsible for so many violent attacks from people with the ability to shoot lightning out of their hands."
But the larger issue is whether violent first-person shooter video games make players more violent. LaPierre called the video game industry a corrupt shadow industry that sells violence to its own people. Many are rejecting the NRA's stand that video games provoke violence, but supporters of controlling such games are emerging. Valerie Bishop @ValerieMarieB tweeted, "Hard to say we want to control something we like, but if improv was responsible for killing kids i'd want to control it." Read more: The Violent Video Games the NRA Didn't Mention .
The debates are sure to continue through the weekend, but the NRA will not be taking part. The organization declined to take questions during today's event, and said it will be available to the media beginning Monday (Dec. 24) morning — which for many people is a holiday.