Among the more curious aspects of Eric Holder’s standoff with Congress over Fast and Furious, a gun-walking operation conducted between 2009 and 2011, is the air of conspiracy theorizing that hangs about it. Especially curious is that some of the most paranoid theorizing finds its source not in far-off Internet chat rooms, but in a well-appointed office building in northern Virginia—the headquarters of the National Rifle Association, the country’s biggest firearm lobbying organization.
In June, the NRA’s Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, posted a letter on the organization’s website accusing Obama of crafting a “grand strategy to use Mexican drug cartel crime as an excuse to advance their gun control agenda, shut down law-abiding gun stores and rip the Second Amendment right out of our Bill of Rights.” LaPierre even implied that the death of Brian Terry, the Border Patrol agent killed along the border in Dec. 2010, was a byproduct of Obama’s hidden anti-gun agenda, telling The New York Times, “There is a belief among a lot of people—and I believe it too—…that the Justice Department facilitated a crime to further their gun control political agenda.”
However feverish the NRA’s stance, it’s clear that it has made an impact—not least, on the 17 Democrats who voted in favor of holding Holder in criminal contempt of Congress on June 28. Each of those Congressmen faces competitive reelections in conservative districts, and none of them could afford to tempt the ire of the NRA. After all, the executive director of the NRA had warned in a June 20 letter to the House of Representatives that it was planning on “consider[ing] this vote in our future candidate evaluations.” I asked Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA’s Director of Public Affairs, what motivated this decision. “Two very good reasons,” Arulanandam replied. “Truth and justice.”
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