The National Rifle Association issued an urgent appeal to its members Tuesday, asking them to “renew or upgrade” as the Obama administration prepared to release a proposal to stem gun violence.
The emailed plea is part of the lobby’s efforts to demonstrate enduring political clout amid growing calls for gun restrictions.
“I warned you this day was coming and now it’s here. This is the fight of the century and I need you on board with NRA now more than ever,” Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre wrote. “My strength, and the strength of our entire NRA organization comes from you and your strong commitment to our membership. I need you in our corner TODAY.”
A spokesman for the organization told CNN that more than 250,000 people had signed up for NRA memberships in the past month as lawmakers weigh legislative responses to the Dec. 14 shooting massacre at a Connecticut elementary school. But the Huffington Post reported that sharp discounts may have contributed to the uptick: Lifetime memberships, which usually sell for $1,000, are now available for just $300.
The NRA email also accused the Obama administration of ignoring the gun owners’ input.
“Instead Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and their gun ban allies in Congress only want to BLAME you, VILIFY you, BULLY you, and STRIP you of your Second Amendment freedoms,” LaPierre wrote. “Right now, they’re steamrolling ahead with legislation that would ban your guns, register your ammunition purchases, and even force you to register the firearms you already own with Obama’s anti-gun bureaucrats.”
Mike Hammond, chief lobbyist for Gun Owners of America, a gun rights advocacy group that often takes more uncompromising stands than the NRA, said the early reports on the details of the White House proposal leave little room for negotiation.
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., also had fighting words for the president ahead of his announcement Wednesday. In an interview with CQ Roll Call, Franks took issue with the staging of the event, during which, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney, Obama will appear alongside a group of children who wrote to him expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety.
Franks, a social conservative, said Obama’s support of abortion rights is at odds with the message that the White House is trying to convey — of protecting school children from gun violence.
“The bottom line is, the hypocrisy there is off the charts,” he said. “A president who supports the taking of 4,000 little lives every day has lost all credibility when it comes to protecting the innocent, especially children.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.