The National Rifle Association didn’t always have a bad rap as an organization, but in recent decades, they have become little more than gun industry puppets, lobbying for and blocking legislation that has resulted in the kind of nationwide carnage seen nowhere else in the developed world.
They’re also really bad at Twitter.
The humorless, angry, and defensive stances of the NRA are not built for the pithy world of Twitter, and it shows. The various NRA Twitter accounts tend to go silent in the days following a shooting. But, after a short wait for the news cycle to change, they go back to producing some of the worst tweets in cyber-history.
After the most recent mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, the savvy social media folks at the National Rifle Association decided to use a Parks and Recreation gif in an attempt at light humor. The team behind Parks, including the person depicted in the gif, Amy Poehler, and creator/showrunner Michael Schur, were disgusted.
Fans of Parks and Rec know that Poehler’s character Leslie Knope was written as extremely liberal, and sometimes criticized gun owners on the show.
But that wasn’t their only online mistake.
Earlier this morning, @NRA re-tweeted a tweet from a gun maker encouraging people to buy their loved ones guns for #ValentinesDay— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) February 14, 2018
Since the #schoolshooting in Florida they've deleted that tweet and have gone silent.
Thankfully, I took a screenshot. pic.twitter.com/cC4A835n0a
Just before the shooting in Florida, the NRA retweeted a post from New York-based Kimber Firearms which read “Give Your Significant Other Something They’ll Appreciate This Valentine’s Day.” The accompanying photo was of two pistols placed on a heart-shaped pillow.
Of course, one gun was smaller than the other, indicating, a classic “his and hers” pairing.
Minutes after a shooting at a Texas church in Sutherland Springs that left 26 dead, the NRA’s blog tweeted out something incredibly sensitive and empathetic. Just kidding. They tweeted out a blog post detailing the differences between a clip and a magazine.
Congressman Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) immediately criticized the NRA for the senseless post, and the tweet was deleted. Of course, screencaps live forever.
The NRA spend $30 million to get Trump elected. What better way to celebrate a political victory than buying a brand new gun that shows their devotion to the man in office.
Since Trump was elected though, three of the 10 worst mass shootings in American history have happened.
Wait, criminals held @KimKardashian at gunpoint in Paris? How is that possible? Does anyone know if they passed a background check first?— NRA (@NRA) October 3, 2016
When the NRA saw that Kim Kardashian had experienced a traumatic personal tragedy, they knew the right thing to do: cynically attempt to capitalize on it by bashing background checks.
Parisian gun laws are particularly upsetting to the NRA, who after the Paris attacks fought bills to keep people from the terror watchlist from purchasing weapons.
The NRA Blog asks all the important questions, like “What is the best firearm to slide into your yoga pants before a morning jog?”
When two New York politicians introduced legislation aimed at curtailing the sale of ammunition in the state, “America’s 1st Freedom,” an NRA publication, thought it would be a good idea to tweet photos of the two women with bullets sitting next to them.
One of the pictured politicians, state Senator Roxanne Persaud, said at the time, “I think it is irresponsible in the times that we are living in to place a target around someone. By placing someone’s picture with bullets next to them you are playing on the fears of people.”
The NRA often twists the facts to get the results they want. Sometimes, their data gymnastics go beyond the point of parody. One example of their creativity with statistics is this claim from a 2015 tweet that the Australian gun buyback “didn’t work.”
By all accounts (except one produced by the Australian gun lobby), the program was an incredible success. Prior to the program and concurrent assault weapons ban there were 13 gun massacres over the course of 18 years. The number of gun massacres since the ban: zero.
Yes, there is a Twitter account called @NRAWomen, because even death merchants can be intersectional.
And, like all NRA-related accounts, this one is terrible.
Two days after an Arizona firearms instructor was shot dead when a nine-year-old accidentally discharged a weapon at a gun range, the account tweeted out an article titled, “7 Ways Children Can Have Fun At the Shooting Range.”
Presumably, “Take a man’s life” is not on the list.
As long as there have been mass shootings in the era of Twitter, the NRA has been there with the worst tweets imaginable. Mere hours after the Aurora, Colorado, shooting at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, the Twitter account for The American Rifleman, the official publication of the NRA, tweeted out, “Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?”
This tweet was so bad that the NRA had to pretend that their social media was person was “unaware of the events in Colorado,” despite it having happened nine hours earlier.
The shooting, of course, was the biggest news story of the day and one of the biggest of the year.