Just when it seems as though the lawmakers in the Indiana General Assembly have demonstrated they are as far removed from reality as is humanly possible, they find another level.
A new dimension of delusion and detachment from real people’s lives.
On the same day that another mass shooting took place in Louisville, Kentucky, our legislators decided to honor the National Rifle Association and its leader, Wayne LaPierre, ahead of the NRA’s convention in Indianapolis.
Just after the news broke that another disturbed person had used a legally obtained military-style weapon to kill five people and wound nine others, including two police officers, our elected representatives opted to pay tribute to the NRA, the organization that has done more than any other group to turn the United States into a mass murderers’ amusement park.
Worse, the lawmakers also opted to genuflect before LaPierre, the huckster who led the NRA’s transformation from a club for sportsmen into the most radicalized special-interest group in the country while bilking the membership and contractors out of hundreds of thousands—and perhaps even millions—of dollars.
Your tax money at work.
There are several things that make this act of obeisance offensive.
The first is that many of the rigid and unrealistic stands the NRA takes don’t even have the backing of the organization’s membership. Several polls have revealed, for example, that somewhere between 70% and 80% of the NRA’s members support universal background checks for firearms purchasers.
That doesn’t matter to the NRA’s leadership, including LaPierre.
Their opposition to background checks and any other reasonable attempt to keep deadly weapons out of disturbed people’s hands has little do with either the U.S. Constitution or common sense. Background checks delay sales. The gun manufacturers and merchants who provide the bulk of the NRA’s funding, through means they try to hide, want to keep the cash registers ringing.
So, regardless of what the members of this supposed members’ organization want, the NRA continues its intransigence to the most common-sense gun laws even as the body count continues to climb.
LaPierre, the man before whom our legislators bowed down, is of a similar mercantile mindset.
The NRA is the focus of litigation in New York state. The discovery process in the state’s civil suit has revealed that LaPierre leads a lavish lifestyle for a man who leads a supposed not-for-profit organization.
He routinely has taken personal flights on the NRA’s private jets, sometimes dispatching to collect family members from exotic places so that they can provide childcare. Investigators have determined that some of LaPierre’s personal vacations could have price tags as high as a half-million dollars apiece.
That’s not surprising.
LaPierre likes a lavish lifestyle. His mansion in Texas cost $6 million—in part because it has an extensive and expensive security system to protect the occupants from all the people running around with the guns LaPierre has worked to make so readily available.
Such security systems sadly aren’t available to most of the rabble who send LaPierre their hard-earned cash.
The NRA’s flacks tried to contend that none of the organization’s money went to helping with the purchase of LaPierre’s home. Independent accountants disproved that whopper in a hurry.
So, here’s where we are: a majority of Indiana’s legislators abased themselves before an organization that is heedless of the damage its profit-driven policies have done to the country and a man who seems never to have seen an expense account he didn’t want to pad, even to the point of overstuffing it.
This all might be just unseemly—if it weren’t for one thing.
Our legislators don’t work for Wayne LaPierre and the NRA.
They work for us.
Or at least they’re supposed to.
But it doesn’t seem to matter to them that most Hoosiers, like most NRA members, would like to see some common-sense legal protections against the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our communities.
The reason it doesn’t matter to the lawmakers is that they reside in legislative districts, thanks to gerrymandering and other forms of political skullduggery, that are as heavily fortified against the ire of the electorate as Wayne LaPierre’s huge homestead is against the gun-toting populace he helped bring into being.
Both our legislators and the NRA like to live behind barricades—barricades that shelter them from everything.