NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch invoked the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King to argue in favor of unrestricted access to firearms.
The National Rifle Association representative singled out New Yorker contributor Rich Benjamin in a four-minute video posted online by NRA TV, and she suggested that King might have survived if he’d been permitted to carry a concealed weapon.
“Despite his attempt to make King’s death a failure of gun control policies at the time, he finds no room to mention that King himself had sought to own a weapon, for his own self-defense, and he was denied,” Loesch said.
King owned what one civil rights activist described as “an arsenal” after his Montgomery, Alabama, home was firebombed in 1955, and he sought a concealed carry permit — but was denied.
“While Dr. King later on had a, yeah, because he embraced nonviolence, had a different view of firearm ownership, but he was very consistent with that, but he also recognized how important it was for everyone to be able to defend themselves,” Loesch said.
Loesch said the lesson she learned from King’s life was to respect other viewpoints, and she positioned herself as a victim of prejudice and discrimination.
“I really think a lot of people are forgetting in our current era, with all of the discussion and all of the politics, is that spirit of nonviolence,” she said. “Have you noticed that people can’t even have a conversation anymore without launching into ad hominem? People can’t even have a conversation without hoping that something horrible will happen to your family or you.”
The NRA spokeswoman then suggested that she — and not the teenage survivors of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida — was the rightful heir of King’s legacy.
“Everyone wants to be right so bad that no one wants to understand why they’re wrong, and why it’s better for them maybe, perhaps, to have a public engagement of ideas instead of screaming at everyone that you’re terrorists or murderers,” Loesch said. “That’s one of the things — as a kid — that I took away from what Dr. King did in the nonviolent movement.”