NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre gave a master class in choir-preaching at the annual CPAC conference in Maryland on Thursday. We've broken it down so that should you ever need to give a speech, you have better advice than that thing about visualizing people's underwear.
1. Thank the people that pay your salary.
When LaPierre took the stage, he started off exactly where the head of a membership-based organization should: by thanking the members. "There must be some NRA members out there," he said to applause. "I'd like to thank you for being here today with me and I'd like to thank you for your support and your vigilance in defending our freedom," LaPierre continued. "It's really made a difference." Which is true: the NRA's effectiveness at blocking incursions into the ability to own firearms is legendary.
LaPierre did not thank his other constituency, the gun manufacturers who, according to the Huffington Post, gave the NRA between $14.7 and $38.9 million between 2005 and 2012.
2. Prove you belong in the room.
In short order, LaPierre ticked off nearly the entire "Things Conservatives Are Mad About / Hate" checklist. Political elites and the media (who are "lying to us, you know they are"). Passing bills without reading them! Reckless health care policies! The IRS as a weapon! Attempts to "regulate our religion" and "collect our cell phones and email data"! Then, firing as rapidly as a modified AR-15: "They give us Solyndra, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Obamacare, massive unemployment, a debt that will choke our grandchildren and one executive order after another right on top of each other." Wham wham wham wham targets destroyed.
The crowd loved it, despite having heard it from most of the prior speakers.
3. Scare the crap out of everyone.
Emphasis added in the transcript below.
We're sad, not because we fear something is going wrong, but because we know something already has gone wrong. That's why more and more Americans are buying firearms and ammunition. Not to cause trouble, but because that America is already in trouble. ...
In this uncertain world, surrounded by lies and corruption everywhere you look, there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want. (Applause.) We know, in the world that surrounds us, there are terrorists and there are home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout-gamers, and rapers and haters and campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all.
There was no applause after that section.
An aside. LaPierre's goal, as it always is, was to reinforce the urgent need for 1) everyone to buy guns (see gun industry data above) and 2) everyone to join the NRA so that America lets people keep buying as many guns as possible. But we'll point out that the utility of even infinite rifles, shotguns, and handguns are somewhat limited against:
- Terrorists (have better weapons than you)
- Drug cartels (lots of people and guns)
- Knockout-gamers (don't exist)
- Haters (easily dispatched with lists of cute cats)
- Campus killers, airport killers, and shopping mall killers (all used guns they'd bought)
- Vicious waves of chemicals or disease (you cannot shoot these things)
4. Close with the greatest hits and the sales pitch.
"The surest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." (Applause.)
"Do you believe that declaration of individual liberty? Let me hear you. Do you believe it? Are you willing to stand and fight for your rights?" (Cheering.)
Then there are two things that I need you to do. First, I want you to go to the NRA booth right here at CPAC and sign your name to a declaration of individual rights. … And second, I want you to stand behind your declaration and back it up by joining the National Rifle Association.
Only $35 a year!
5. Go out to appropriate music.
NRA's Wayne LaPierre goes out to song with the lyrics "I'm bulletproof, nothin' to lose, fire away, fire away."— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) March 6, 2014
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.