National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch, who’s quickly becoming one of America’s most loathed people, appeared on a Sunday morning news show once again to try to shift the national gun control debate in the wake of the Parkland school shooting.
For most people across the country, this tactic is not working. But in fighting what so far has been a losing battle, given the momentum created by incredibly organized, articulate, and outspoken teenage victims of the massacre, Loesch seems to be now speaking to an audience of one: President Donald Trump, and by extension, his right–wing base.
Trump, who needed a note card to remember to be empathetic to the victims of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, is all over the map on how to respond. In a Saturday night interview with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, who is a shameless Trump propagandist, the president doubled down on previous off–the–cuff remarks about arming teachers, comments he delivered during a White House listening session with the victims. Trump continues to move the goalposts on gun control by trying to shift the national debate to the nonstarter idea of arming teachers.
“You see what happened with the police officers that didn’t have the guts to go in...If we would have had some great teachers that were gun adept…and if they had concealed permits, you wouldn’t have this problem today,” Trump said in a rambling phone conversation with Pirro.
Earlier in the day, the president tweeted the same argument, saying, “Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again - a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States.”
On Thursday, Trump had diverged from NRA talking points—despite the group paying his presidential campaign some $30 million—by calling for the raising of the minimum age to purchase “all” guns from 18 to 21. He later clarified that by saying he had meant to refer only to semi–automatic weapons.
But even that clarification wasn’t enough for the NRA’s Loesch, who told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week that “these are just things that he’s discussing right now…So far nothing’s been proposed yet.”
“I do want to caution people, because I know that people are trying to find daylight between President Trump and 5 million law–abiding gun owners, and law–abiding gun owners all across the United States. These are just things that he’s discussing right now,” Loesch said. “I think that it’s great that as president he had all of these individuals, all of these constituents come into the White House. He had this listening session. He’s really looking for solutions. He wanted to hear what they had to say, and that’s what he’s doing. So far nothing’s been proposed yet, the NRA’s made their position clear.
Stephanopoulos interrupted to ask, “The position is you do not want to raise the age?” Loesch responded, “That’s what the NRA came out and said.”
On arming teachers, Loesch significantly altered the position Trump has been pushing in the past week, saying, “I think that if a school, and if parents and teachers voluntarily choose to be armed, I think that’s something that schools are gonna have to come up with and determine for themselves.”
Then she delivered a sales pitch for an NRA program that claims to work with schools and teachers across the country to “protect” them.
The good news in all of this is that young people like David Hogg, one of the Douglas High School survivors leading the movement to push for stricter gun control and safety measures, are leagues ahead of both the NRA’s spokeswoman and even the president of the United States.
Appearing on the same ABC news show Sunday morning, Hogg said, “What I want people to know is, look at Dana. Look at what she is saying. Is she actually saying anything, or is that just a tone to distract the American public and distract her NRA members from the fact that she’s not serving them? She is serving the gun manufacturers. She’s not serving the people of the NRA, because the people that are joining the NRA, 99.9% of them are amazing people that just want to be safe, responsible gun owners. And I fully can support that.”