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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

The National Rifle Association under great strain A critical discourse analysis of a speech given in the wake of a school shooting

BA thesis Total number of characters excl. blanks: 61.608 May 5th 2015 Aarhus University

Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

Abstract The amount of civilian firearms, the homicide rate, the amount of mass shootings and the constitutional right to gun ownership in America serve as motivation for this paper. The National Rifle Association (NRA), today a social movement organization with over 4 million members, has pled the protection of this constitutional right as their primary purpose. This paper, thus, will analyze how the NRA defends itself in the event of mass shootings. The paper contains a brief account of the NRA and its history, as well as a brief account of gun legislation. Using Teun Adrianus Van Dijk’s principles of critical discourse analysis, a speech given by Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, will be analyzed. The analysis will determine and analyze the three most significant rhetorical strategies at the macro level and then continue by analyzing rhetorical strategies at the micro level. In this analysis, accounts of the Second Amendment, early colonial history, the mindset of the NRA and its members and frontier masculinity are included to analyze the rhetorical strategies. The three most significant rhetorical strategies are found to be scapegoating, comparisons and avoidance. However, avoiding the notion of gun control is determined to be the most important strategy. Overall, the results of the analysis indicate scrupulous content and an implied political agenda. With NRA membership increasing and growing public support for gun rights after the Sandy Hook shooting, speculations on the efficiency of the speech may even be reasonable. Keywords: The National Rifle Association (NRA), mass shootings, gun legislation, Teun Adrianus Van Dijk, critical discourse analysis, Wayne LaPierre, Sandy Hook, the Second Amendment, frontier masculinity, gun control

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

Table of contents Abstract .......................................................................................................................................................... 1 1. Introduction ............................................................................................................................................. 3 1.1 Motivation for this paper ...................................................................................................................... 3 1.2 Problem statement and delimitation ................................................................................................. 3 1.3 Structure ................................................................................................................................................... 4 2. Background .............................................................................................................................................. 4 2.1 The National Rifle Association (NRA) ................................................................................................ 4 2.2 The Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) ......................................................................................... 5 2.3 The NRA shifting to the Right .............................................................................................................. 5 2. 4 Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President (EVP) and CEO ......................................................... 6 2.5 A constitutional right to self-defense ................................................................................................. 6 2.6 A brief history of gun regulation ......................................................................................................... 6 3. Theory and Method ............................................................................................................................... 7 3.1 Teun Adrianus van Dijk ......................................................................................................................... 7 3.2 Principles and aims of critical discourse analysis ........................................................................... 8 3.3 The role of discourse in the (re)production and challenge of dominance ................................ 8 3. 4 Discourse and access ............................................................................................................................ 9 3.5 Social cognition ....................................................................................................................................... 9 3.6 Rhetoric ................................................................................................................................................. 10 3.7 Discourse Pragmatics ......................................................................................................................... 10 4. Analysis ................................................................................................................................................... 11 4.1 Rhetorical strategies at the macro level ......................................................................................... 11 4.1.1 Scapegoating.................................................................................................................................................. 11 4.1.2 Using comparisons for persuasion and rhetorical argumentation ................................................... 16 4.1.3 Avoidance: counterpersuasion.................................................................................................................. 18

4.2 Rhetorical strategies at the micro level .......................................................................................... 21 4.2.1 Variations of syntax and lexicon ............................................................................................................... 21 4.2.2 Rhetoric .......................................................................................................................................................... 22 4.2.3 Discourse pragmatics .................................................................................................................................. 25 4.2.4 Merged summary of macro- and micro level analysis ......................................................................... 26

5. Perspective ............................................................................................................................................ 27 6. Conclusion ............................................................................................................................................. 28 7. References ............................................................................................................................................. 29

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

1. Introduction 1.1 Motivation for this paper Today there are estimated to be as many as 270 million civilian firearms in the United States of America and each year thirty thousand Americans die from gun related violence; fifty thousand more are wounded (Waldman 2014:161). Additionally, the homicide rate in the U.S. is seven times higher than the combined homicide rate of 22 other high-income countries (Waldman 2014:162). Taking these numbers into account, one may wonder why civilian gun ownership is, not only, still legal, but also a profoundly valued constitutional right to many Americans. Since 2006, there have been more than 200 mass killings in The United States of America. From among these 200 mass killings, especially the school shootings at Columbine High School, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Sandy Hook Elementary School has received massive media coverage. In the wake of each of these tragedies, gun legislation has been the subject of widespread debate. As diligent protectors of the Second Amendment and the most powerful lobbying organization in Washington (Melzer 2012:233), The National Rifle Association (NRA) is often severely criticized for their adamant belief in the Second Amendment and the individual right to bear arms. But could these carnages have been avoided if there had been more restrictions on guns and how is it possible to defend your belief in the right to carry a gun when such meaningless bloodshed happen? The former question is what many people have been asking themselves and the NRA and the latter is the main motivation for this paper.

1.2 Problem statement and delimitation The primary objective of this paper is to answer the question: How does the NRA defend itself in the event of mass shootings? The purpose of this paper is hereby not to answer the questions asked in 1.1, nor is it to determine what the Second Amendment actually means or to take sides in the gun debate, but to analyze how the NRA defends itself rhetorically when being presented with negative mention in the media.

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

1.3 Structure The first part of this paper will contain an account of the NRA, a brief account of the Executive Vice President of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre as well as a brief account of gun legislation in America leading up the “political transformation” of the NRA. In the second part of this paper, Teun Adrianus van Dijk’s principles of critical discourse analysis (Van Dijk 1993) will be explained along with other theory of his necessary to understand the execution of the analysis. The third part of the paper contains a critical discourse analysis of a speech given by Wayne LaPierre at a press conference in Washington on December 21, 2012. The speech served as a response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14 (CNN 2012). The analysis will be divided into two parts. The first part will be a macro level analysis of the three most dominant rhetorical strategies in the speech and the second part will be a micro level analysis. A brief summary of the analysis as a whole is also included. Before the concluding part of the paper, there will be a part putting the paper in perspective. Lastly, a conclusion on the basis of the analysis will be conducted.

2. Background 2.1 The National Rifle Association (NRA) The NRA was founded in 1871 (Melzer 2012:35). In the beginning, it was a quasi-military organization focusing on improving American people’s accuracy with rifles (Melzer 2012:35). Today it has, according to Scott Melzer, evolved into a four-million-member conservative social movement organization (SMO) (Melzer 2012:1).

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

2.2 The Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) Established in 1975, ILA is the lobbying arm of the NRA. ILA is “committed to preserving the right of law-abiding individuals to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution” (ILA 2015). The Institute employs a staff of more than 80 and it has a team of full-time lobbyists defending Second Amendment issues in the U.S. Congress, in state legislatures and in local government bodies.

2.3 The NRA shifting to the Right Having focused on training American men to shoot safely and accurately since its beginning in 1871, the NRA began to shift its focus after the defeat of Japan (Waldman 2014:87). In the turmoil of the 1960s, gun violence became subject to public controversy. Throughout the decade, political divisions took on deep cultural dimensions, turning rural and suburban culturally conservative white voters against younger people and people with other ethnicities living in urban areas (Waldman 2014:89). One weekend in 1976, eighty staff members were fired and a year later, the NRA signaled a withdrawal from politics by moving its headquarters to Colorado Springs, Colorado (Waldman 2014:90). This led to insurrection and at the annual meeting in 1977 the entire organization’s leadership was voted out. The new leadership consisted of activists from the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (Waldman 2014:90). Neal Knox, editor of Gun Week magazine, became the new head lobbyist. He opposed gun laws of any kind and speculated, that the assassinations of the 1960s could be part of gun control conspiracy (Waldman 2014:90). For the first time, the NRA communicated that the preservation and protection of the Second Amendment was their primary concern. A Second Amendment that they now believed to ensure the traditional American right for every law-abiding citizen to own and legally use firearms. The NRA had lurched to the right. Rebellions of the 1960s seemed earthshaking at that moment in time and racial fears was also a big concern (Waldman 2014:91). When running against Gerald R. Ford for the Republican nomination in 1975, Ronald Reagan expressed his concord with the NRA’s comprehension of the Second Amendment and thus, he received the first presidential endorsement ever given by the NRA (Waldman 2014:93).

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

2. 4 Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President (EVP) and CEO LaPierre has been a government activist and lobbyist since he received his Masters degree from Boston College (NRA On the Record 2015). He began working for the NRA in 1978 as state liaison in ILA. In 1986 he was appointed Executive Director of ILA and he held that post for 5 years until he became EVP of the NRA in 1991. LaPierre is notorious for extreme rhetoric and has been quoted for calling federal law enforcement agents “jack-booted thugs” and for accusing Bill Clinton of having “blood on his hands” for his support of gun control measures (NRA On the Record 2015). As EVP, LaPierre is in charge of NRA’s policy and he has mobilized NRA opposition to the Democratic presidential candidates in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

2.5 A constitutional right to self-defense In June 2008, the Supreme Court rendered its ruling in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. This was the first time the Supreme Court ruled, that the Second Amendment recognizes an individual right to own a gun unrelated to militia service (Waldman 2014:121). The result of the ruling can be ascribed to a network between the Republican Party and various conservative movements (including the NRA), that together had become a strong, centralized political machine. However, a rise of conservative jurists in the 1960s and a general consensus in society also played a part. As liberal academic, Cass Sunstein put it: “it can be appropriate for a court to recognize a right because it reflects a consensus” (Waldman 2014:129). Gun ownership is now deemed a constitutionally protected, legal right (Waldman 2014:153).

2.6 A brief history of gun regulation In order to remedy the depressing conditions of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced a much needed initiative with the New Deal in the 1930s. The Eighteenth Amendment, which had entailed an absolute prohibition of alcohol in America (Cornell University Law School 2015), enabled gangs to control the illegal sale of liquor and hereby also wreak havoc in the streets (Waldman 2014:81). Weapons, originally intended to be used in World War I, made it easy for these gangs to slay members of rival gangs and bank robbery was a common method of gaining profit.

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen Roosevelt’s New Deal was a two-part strategy to calm down the carnage (Waldman 2014:81). The Twenty-first Amendment, which repealed Prohibition, was the first step. Then he imposed an increased effort on tackling gangsters and their guns by setting forth the “New Deal for Crime” (Waldman 2014:81). At the same time he won passage of the first federal gun legislation in the history of the United States of America, the National Firearms Act of 1934. It imposed a heavy tax on weapons likely to be used by gangsters and machine guns and sawedoff shotguns had to be registered and could not be transported across state lines. Originally the law included pistols, but too much opposition from gun owners forced omission. The NRA backed this plan (Waldman 2014:81). In 1938 the administration attempted to impose another bill, which would include all guns; this time around, both gun owners and the NRA protested. The result was the second federal gun control law in four years and it banned interstate trafficking in guns without a license (Waldman 2014:82). The assassinations of African-American civil rights advocate, Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy would lead to even more restrictions on guns. The Gun Control Act of 1968 established a federal licensing system for gun dealers and banned the importation of military-style weapons (Waldman 2014:83). Furthermore, it prohibited certain classes of people from being able to obtain guns because they were deemed dangerous. Felons, fugitives and people dishonorably discharged from the military were no longer allowed to purchase or possess guns as of 1968.

3. Theory and Method 3.1 Teun Adrianus van Dijk Teun Adrianus van Dijk, born on May 7th, 1943, is a Dutch scholar in the field of text linguistics, discourse analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) (Wikia n.d.). Since the 1980s, his CDA work has focused primarily on the study of discursive reproduction of racism by what he calls the “symbolic elites” (politicians, journalists, scholars, writers), the study of news in the press, and on the theories of ideology and context (Wikia n.d.).

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

3.2 Principles and aims of critical discourse analysis According to Van Dijk, critical discourse analysis (CDA) should focus on the discourse dimensions of power abuse and the injustice and social inequality that come to light as a result (Van Dijk 1993:252). Overall, CDA seeks to examine pressing social issues and obtain better knowledge of these issues through discourse analysis. Critical discourse analysts, unlike other discourse analysts, ought to have an explicit sociopolitical standpoint: they will state their point of view, perspective, principles and aims, both within their discipline and within the general society (Van Dijk 1993:252). The work of critical discourse analysts is ultimately political and the hope is change through critical understanding. The critical targets under scrutiny are the “power elites” that “enact, sustain, legitimate, condone or ignore social inequality and injustice” (Van Dijk 1993:252). However, critical discourse analysis is not easy and requires “true multidisciplinary, and an account of intricate relationships between text, talk, social cognition, power, society and culture” (Van Dijk 1993:253).

3.3 The role of discourse in the (re)production and challenge of dominance Van Dijk defines dominance as “the exercise of social power by elites, institutions or groups, that results in social inequality, including political, cultural, class, ethnic, racial, and gender inequality” (Van Dijk 1993:249). In practice, it is sensible to study the relations between discourse structures and power structures directly. As an example, van Dijk makes the assumption that directive speech acts, such as commands or orders function as tools to enact power and to demonstrate dominance (Van Dijk 1993:250). Similarly, it is relevant to scrutinize strategies that aim at the concealment of social power relations, such as understating power and implicitness. However, the conditions on this reproduction of dominance are complicated, because social inequality is not always reproduced by speech acts like commands. This is evident in the social relationships, where such commands are perfectly appropriate and legitimate, such as those between parents and their children, between superiors and subordinates, or between law enforcement officers and citizens (Van Dijk 1993:250).

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

3. 4 Discourse and access Van Dijk argues, that power and dominance are based on the privileged access to discourse and communication (Van Dijk 1993:255). This means that language users and communicators have more or less freedom in the use of special discourse genres or styles, or in the participation in specific communicative events and contexts (Van Dijk 1993:256). For example, only parliamentarians have access to parliamentary debates. Furthermore, an analysis of various modes discourse access reveals a parallelism between social power and discourse access: the more discourse genres, contexts, participants, audience, scope and text characteristics the elite institution actively controls or influences, the more powerful it is (Van Dijk 1993:256). Similarly, lack of power is also measured by its lack of active or controlled access to discourse: many “ordinary” people will only talk to friends, family and colleagues in everyday life (Van Dijk 1993:256). Similarly to how power and dominance may be institutionalized to enhance their efficiency, access may be organized to enhance its impact: recognizing the crucial role of the media, powerful social actors and institutions have organized their media access by press officers, press releases, press conferences, PR departments and so on (Van Dijk 1993:256).

3.5 Social cognition Van Dijk stresses, that “modern” power has a major cognitive dimension (Van Dijk 1993:257). Disregarding the various forms of military, police, judicial or male force, the exercise of power usually requires mind management, involving the influence of “knowledge, beliefs, understanding, plans, attitudes, ideologies, norms and values” (Van Dijk 1993:257). Thus, the management of modes of access is determined on the basis of this access to the public mind, which is conceptualized in terms of social cognition. Discourse, communication and other forms of action and interaction are monitored by social cognition (Van Dijk 1993:257). The same can be said about our comprehension of social events or of social institutions and power relations. In this way, social cognitions are instrumental between micro- and macro levels of society, “between discourse and action, between the individual and the group” (Van Dijk 1993:257). Social cognitions are embodied in

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen the minds of individuals, but they are also social seeing as they are shared and presupposed by members of groups. Social cognitions provide a link between dominance and discourse and explain the production, understanding and influence of text and talk (Van Dijk 1993:257).

3.6 Rhetoric According to Van Dijk, rhetoric has been the study of speaking and writing, for instance in parliament, in court or in literature since antiquity (Van Dijk 2007:7).

In comparison,

discourse studies are often called the contemporary discipline of what used to be called rhetoric. Today, however, rhetoric is often linked to the study of literature, rather than to the study of discourse in general (Van Dijk: 2007:7). As a way of separating rhetoric with discourse studies, van Dijk defines rhetoric as a sub discipline of discourse studies which focuses on “rhetorical” structures in texts and talking, such as metaphors, comparisons, irony, hyberboles, euphemisms etc. (Van Dijk 2007:7). Traditionally these structures were labeled “figures of style” and they are, unlike other discourse structures, optional in discourse. They are used to produce specific effects when, for instance using persuasion to convey your views and they are also employed to either emphasize or de-emphasize meaning (Van Dijk:2007:7).

3.7 Discourse Pragmatics Pragmatics is, according to Van Dijk, a sister-discipline of discourse studies and he describes it as the study of “language use” rather than the study of grammar (Van Dijk 2007:8). Thus the study of pragmatics is comprised of specific properties of interaction, such as how language users express or signal politeness; manage “face” and generally the social relations between participants. More specifically, Van Dijk refer to pragmatics as another sub discipline of discourse studies, which focuses on speech acts or illocution, that is, the specific social acts conveyed by language users and that typically are accomplished by text or talk, such as assertions, promises, questions, congratulations and so on (Van Dijk 2007:8).

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

4. Analysis On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza brought a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle and two handguns to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where he slew 20 students and six adults (CNN 2012). A week later, at a press conference in Washington, Executive Vice President and CEO of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre delivered this speech in response to the carnage. The speech is uploaded in three parts and the links are available in the references (Eaton 2012). Through the analysis, in-text references will only contain partand time specification. The structure of the analysis is inspired by the work in “Principles of critical discourse analysis” by Teun Adrianus van Dijk (Van Dijk 1993).

4.1 Rhetorical strategies at the macro level 4.1.1 Scapegoating Throughout the speech, LaPierre emphasizes the fault of other entities distinctly. “There exits in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people”, he says (Pt. 1 7:17). Raising $256 million dollars in 2012 (Bykowicz 2013) and with its “post-Newtown” membership rolls surpassing 5 million (Korte 2013), the NRA can legitimately be defined as an elite institution (Van Dijk 1993:250). Presuming that the vast majority of NRA members will be sympathetic to their Executive Vice President (EVP) who speaks on behalf of the organization, it is plausible, that the views expressed will resonate with a significant amount of people. The video game industry LaPierre mentions violent video game titles, such as “Bullet Storm”, “Grand Theft Auto”, “Mortal Kombat”, “Splatterhouse” and “Kindergarten Killers” (Pt. 1 7:33). The purpose seems to be insinuating the coresponsibility of this industry for such tragedies. According to a 2014 Time Magazine article, approximately 90 % of American children played video games and more than 90 % of those games involve mature content that often includes violence (Park 2014). The article also references scientific work suggesting the tendency that “violent video games may set up kids to react in more hostile and violent ways”. With statistics and scientific

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen work like this available, it is beneficial for LaPierre to influence the cognitive perception of the listeners by using frames (Van Dijk 1977:19). The purpose seems to be manipulating the listeners into regarding this as the real issue that requires attention and hereby focus is also removed from Us (Van Dijk 2006:373). The film industry LaPierre starts talking about “bloodsoaked films” and mentions titles like “American Psycho” and “Natural Born Killers” (Pt. 1 8:23). Once again the purpose seems to be implying blame. Blaming the film industry may well have resonated with the audience at that point in time. Only around 5 months earlier, 24-year old James E. Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58 others in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado (Pearson 2012). The movie theater was running a midnight screening of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises”. According to federal law enforcement, Holmes had colored his hair red and he also told them that he was “the Joker”. Famously brought to life in 2008’s “The Dark Knight”, “the Joker” was a gloomy character that encouraged anarchists to take over Gotham City. During the carnage, witnesses say Holmes was wearing a gas mask that concealed most of his face. Furthermore, police say Holmes: “dressed head-to-toe in protective tactical gear, set off two devices of some kind before spraying the Century 16 theater with bullets from an AR-15 rifle, 12-gauge shotgun and at least one of two .40 caliber handguns” (Pearson 2012). The guns were purchased legally. The Aurora shooting, despite not being mentioned explicitly in the speech or the interview, was still fresh on people’s minds. The fact that Holmes wore such tactical attire and had such a tactical course of action, suggest a personality detached from reality. The NRA thus had a concrete example of a deranged person who, inspired by a movie, committed a senseless crime, to reinforce its argument. The music industry LaPierre references the thousands of music videos that “portray life as a joke and murder as a way of life” (Pt. 1 8:40). Within the music industry, there may be breeding ground for the accusations of the NRA. “The music recording industry has continued to market violent and

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen sexually explicit material to young people through television and print advertisements”, the Federal Trade Commission said in 2001 (The New York Times 2001). The Federal Trade Commission can also be construed as an elite institution and therefore a statement like this will have a significant impact on recipients. Several examples of other news media shedding light on this issue also exist (Phillips 1992; Scheerer 1999; Donaldson-Evans 2005). As with the video game industry, the purpose is to take a widely known issue like this and reinforce it as the real problem. The media LaPierre highlights the media by expressing: “In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes – every minute of every day of every month of every year” (Pt. 1 9:09). There is a media bias in the U.S., a UCLA-led study finds (Sullivan 2005). In this study, 20 major media outlets were examined and 18 scored left of center. The Wall Street Journal, CBS “Evening News”, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times led liberal media, while only Fox News’ “Special Report With Brit Hume” and The Washington Times were found to have a right-wing bias (Sullivan 2005). According to (Melzer 2012:9), the NRA is almost absolutely supporting the Republicans and he also argues that the SMO is a cultural warrior for the Right. During the 2000 Bush-Gore contest, the NRA spent $25 millon on the Republican presidential candidate during the fall campaign, including $17 million through the ILA and $1,5 million directly to the Republican Party (Melzer 2012:230). The NRA, thus only have two major media outlets that it can hope to receive good mention from and a lot of liberal media outlets who will likely oppose. Moreover, it seems beneficial and also legitimate for LaPierre to accuse the media’s coverage of murders and violence of lacking moral decency. Van Dijk argues, that there exists an inherent news value system that focuses on the negative, the sensational, sex, and violence (Van Dijk 1988:85).

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen Disregarding the prevalent presence of liberal media, the NRA dislikes the media in general because it has power (Van Dijk 1995:10). “Media power is generally symbolic and persuasive, in the sense that the media primarily have the potential to control to some extent the minds of readers or viewers, but not directly their actions” (Van Dijk 1995:10). The media also has “access to public discourse, for example, that of the mass media. Thus, controlling the means of mass communication is one of the crucial conditions of social power in contemporary information societies” (Van Dijk 1995:11). The NRA is hereby, as an elite institution trying to control public discourse, fighting against another elite institution also trying to control public discourse. The Democrats and the sitting President “Politicians pass laws for gun free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And, in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk”, LaPierre says (Pt. 1 1:52). He then shifts focus to the president and says: “But do know that this president zeroed out school emergency planning grants in last year’s budget and scrapped Secure Our Schools policing grants in next year’s budget” (Pt. 2 6:00). LaPierre blames politicians and the sitting president, Democrat, Barack Obama for passing laws for gun-free school zones and for neglecting school safety. Statistics suggest, that he may not be referring to Republican politicians (Berlow & Witkin 2013). The NRA, its allies in the gun industry and Gun Owners of America have lead nearly $81 million into Congress and presidential races since the 2000 election cycle (Berlow and Witkin 2013). The top 10 recipients of these donations were all Republican. In comparison, the top 10 recipients of gun control donations were all Democrats. These statistics depict gun politics as partisan, as Melzer also argues (Melzer 2012:9). Apart from the earlier American gun regulation already introduced, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which ensures the right of the people to keep and bear arms (Cornell University Law School 2015), has been further limited in more recent times. In the last couple of decades, the NRA has witnessed two major laws, that it would likely view as restrictions on Second Amendment rights, being signed into law and they were both signed by a democratic

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen President. When Ronald Reagan was attempted assassinated in 1981, it provided breeding ground for the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (later renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. In 1993, more than a decade later, Bill Clinton signed the bill into law. It “provided a waiting period before the purchase of a handgun and for the establishment of a national instant criminal background check system to be contacted by firearms dealers before the transfer of any firearm” (Melzer 2012:236). Clinton also signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 into law. The comprehensive bill included the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which prohibited the civilian sale of certain assault style weapons (Melzer 2012:236). During the time with Republican George W. Bush as President, he signed two major gun laws. They both had the support of the NRA. The first one was the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act which was “a bill to prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages, injunctive or other relief resulting from the misuse of their product by others” (Melzer 2012: 238). This bill was created in an effort to end liability lawsuits against manufacturers that held them accountable for gun violence. The NRA backed the bill and stated, that these lawsuits could bankrupt the firearms industry and that they were a back way to more gun control (Melzer 2012:238). The mass shooting at the Virginia Tech University in 2007, where thirty-two people died, made gun control a major issue again. The perpetrator, student Seung Hui Cho, was wrongly granted the right to buy a gun, even though he had a history of mental illness (Melzer 2012:238). The reason was the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which used to do background checks on gun buyers, at the time of purchase, battled with poor record keeping and Cho was not detected in the system. Consequently, the Democrats wanted to strengthen the NICS system and in January 2008, George W. Bush signed the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, which denied the purchase of guns for “certain convicted criminals, fugitives, persons with certain mental illnesses, and others deemed unfit gun ownership” (Melzer 2012:238). The NRA, long time proponents of gun rights for “lawabiding” citizens, backed the bill on the condition, that the government would not retain gun purchase data.

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

In these cases, the partisan bias in gun politics is overt. Democrat Bill Clinton signed two laws that imposed restrictions on the Second Amendment and George W. Bush signed one law that sought to protect the firearms industry and one law that put restrictions, only, on the gun rights of “non law-abiding” citizens. The NRA fears, that new gun control laws will be signed into law and hence, it is criticizing democrats and the President. In this fight against gun control, the tactics of the NRA seems to be thriving. Statistics show a significant increase in attendance at NRA annual meetings since Obama took office (Korte 2013). At the 2015 NRA annual meeting in Nashville, the most likely Republican presidential candidates held speeches (Wadhwani 2015). The Republican Party is very aware of NRA’s political influence and many of its 4 million members will vote solely on the basis of a candidate’s view on guns (Melzer 2012:235). Furthermore a 2014 survey found, that for the first time in more than two decades, there is more support for gun rights than gun control (Pew Reseach Center 2014). 52 % say it is more important to protect gun ownership rights, while 46 % say it is more important to control gun ownership. On state level, 109 new gun laws have enacted since the Sandy Hook shooting and 70 of these laws helped loosen restrictions on guns (Yourish; Andrews; Buchanan; McLean 2013).

4.1.2 Using comparisons for persuasion and rhetorical argumentation “We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, court houses, even sports stadiums are protected by armed security. We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers” LaPierre says (Pt. 1 2:32). By referring to the gun culture in America and by listing other situations where guns are used and perfectly legitimate, LaPierre is trying to persuade the audience into wanting armed security in schools. Mary R. Power, professor of communication, lists 5 key traits of a persuasive speaker: -

appears credible.

-

urges listeners to choose between options.

-

calls for commitment from listeners.

-

often relies on arousing emotions to move audiences to action.

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen -

directs efforts to groups rather than individuals. (Power 1998:23)

With his Masters degree, his more than 30 years of dedication to the NRA and more than 20 years at the top position in the NRA, it is fair to presume that LaPierre is a credible speaker. Throughout the speech, the audience is given the choice between putting armed security in schools or giving “monsters” a free rein to “inflict maximum mayhem” in gun free schools. “It’s now time for us to assume responsibility for our schools. The only way – the only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection” (Pt. 2 1:39). In this example, LaPierre calls for commitment from listeners. Right after having shared his comparisons, he relies on arousing emotions by saying: “Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family…” (Pt. 1 3:12). At the end of the speech, LaPierre says (Pt. 3 1:09): “I call on every parent. I call on every teacher. I call on every school administrator, every law enforcement officer in this country…” and in saying so, he is overtly directing his words to groups rather than individuals. LaPierre also structures his speech so that the common value and interest is our kids (Power 1998:23). Richardson argues that rhetorical argumentation “has to do with effective argumentation for an audience” and that it “in its simplest form, occurs when someone, who believes some statement, presents reasons which aim at persuading others to adopt the same point of view” (Richardson 2000:4). It is based on factual reason in support of a conclusion, but differs from other argument types, in that it acts as the defense of opinion as opposed to the pursuit of “truth”. Rhetorical argumentation thus represents “opinion statements embedded in argumentation that makes them more or less defensible, reasonable, justifiable or legitimate as conclusions” (Richardson 2000:4). Since this issue, depending on different convictions can have different solutions, LaPierre is not in pursuit of any truth and his comparisons are rather a defense of opinion. The structure of his argumentation begins with the factual reason, that armed security is used in the situations he lists. The conclusion; armed security should also be in schools. However, there is no evidence that armed security in schools is the right solution or the “truth”. He is simply trying to persuade the audience to adopt the same view as that of the NRA.

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

4.1.3 Avoidance: counterpersuasion Having already determined, that the NRA is deeply, politically engaged and that gun politics is partisan, it is fair to define the NRA as the establishment and the Democrats, liberals, the Obama administration and gun control advocates in general as the dissent movement (Bowers; Ochs; Jensen; Schulz 2010). By using counterpersuasion, LaPierre is trying to convince the dissenters that their proposals are wrong and will not work. The NRA’s proposal as a solution is clear; armed security in schools. Despite not being given much attention in the speech there is one example indicating that the proposal of the dissenters is gun control. “Worse, they perpetuate the notion that one more gun ban or one more law imposed on peaceable, lawful people will protect us where 20,000 others have failed”, LaPierre states (Pt. 2 0:55). It also shows a clear case of emphasizing the bad traits of them (Van Dijk 2006:373). Opposing gun control: The Second Amendment The main reason for the NRA to oppose any form of gun control is the Second Amendment which reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” (Waldman 2014:XI). As part of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which is also called the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment is not comprehended unanimously. The NRA will probably argue, that the Second Amendment protects the right of the individual to protect oneself and that gun ownership opponents are trying to deprive them of their liberties. There is even a general consensus within the NRA that the Ten Amendments (to the U.S. Constitution), like the Ten Commandments, were handed down from God (Melzer 2012:14). Knowing that the NRA is a conservative SMO and that most conservatives use faith as a guiding principle (Quinn n.d.), it is sensible to regard this particular belief about divine intervention in the creation of the Bill of Rights as very important to the NRA. In the minds of most NRA members, this makes the Bill of Rights sacred. Militias To fully comprehend this constitutional right one must begin in the American Revolutionary Era. In early colonial America, militias were considered of great importance for public defense and the preservation of liberty. They consisted of ordinary men from the citizenry aging from

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen sixteen to sixty, who were required to serve intermittently in a militia (Waldman 2014:6). Beside the requirement to serve, the men were also required to own a musket. The purpose of the militias was to manage law and order. The colonists were strongly influenced by so-called Radical British thought which derived from struggles between Parliament and the King in the century before 1775 (Waldman 2014:7). Mostly, they recognized the dangers of a standing army. The national army was viewed considerably different in 1775 compared to what may be the consensus today; tyranny in making and authoritarianism on the march were only some of the nicknames. The reason for employing early colonial history is not to discuss the factual meaning of the Second Amendment, but to display where this gun culture derives from. The mindset of the organization and the members NRA members are predominantly older, conservative white men for whom “freedom” is equal to the government staying completely out of their lives (Melzer 2012:2). They share the same fear today of a standing army and they will not be disarmed by the government. They are fighting a perceived war against liberals, an increasingly socialist government and other foes who they feel is trying to take away their freedoms one by one. The Second Amendment is, they argue, the one right that allows all of the others to exist and hence, the fight is often labeled a fight to preserve freedom (Melzer 2012:68). They all share a profound love of the United States and they believe, that Americans should rely on themselves for basic needs like food, accommodation, love and protection and not the government. They argue, that this was how the nation was founded and what made it great (Melzer 2012:2). A big government or “nanny state” is, NRA alarms, a part of a culture war, which threatens gun rights, individual rights and freedoms, the values of self-reliance and independence (Melzer 2012:2). Members also fear, that the political Left seeks to replace democracy with socialism, communism or fascism. During the American Revolution the colonists fought the British and ended up being victorious. Following this victory, the gun ended up being enshrined as historic symbol of freedom (Melzer 2012:30). The significant majority of older, conservative white men, sympathetic to the views of the NRA, see themselves as contemporary freedom fighters trying to fend off liberals instead of the British (Melzer 2012:2). Melzer argues, that NRA members

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen cast themselves as heroic frontiersmen celebrating a version of American manhood from decades past (Melzer 2012:15). Frontier masculinity When men opt to join the NRA, it is not only to defend the Second Amendment, but also to defend what Scott Melzer calls frontier masculinity (Melzer 2012:16). This term is characterized by “rugged individualism, hard work, protecting and providing for families, and self-reliance. Frontier masculinity is the “mythologized dominant version of manhood America’s frontier past” (Melzer 2012:16). Psychologist Robert Brannon conceptualizes four building blocks of American masculinity (Brannon n.d. cited in Melzer 2012:29):

“No sissy stuff” – boys and men must never do anything that appears weak or feminine “Be a Big Wheel” – real men have power and control over others “Be a Sturdy Oak” – be stoical and emotionless, relying only on oneself for strength “Give ‘em Hell” – men who are aggressive and take risks will be rewarded Sociologist R.W. Connell suggests: “At both symbolic and practical levels, the defense of gun ownership is a defense of hegemonic masculinity” (Melzer 2012:29). The overall aim of the speech can be construed as a defense of frontier masculinity. One of the perks of converting gun-free schools and letting armed security serve would be promoting self-reliance. The schools would not have to wait for the police to show up and individual civilians would also be able to take matters into their own hands. This sentiment can be construed as having roots in the history of militias. Another perk would be that it promotes “emotionlessness”. A typical opinion may be that guns have no place in schools, but the NRA advocates the logic solution instead of the emotional one. In the speech there is great emphasis on the children and the families who have lost them. However, the NRA wants to take matters into their own hands and refuses to rely on the police when it comes to protecting and providing for families. NRA members argue, that gun control support comes from irrational and emotional responses to gun violence and that giving in to these emotions creates personal and national weakness

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen (Melzer 2012:133). Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, has been pushing for gun control in the Senate since the Sandy Hook shooting (Codianni 2014). A video summary of him advocating gun control in the Senate for the past 2 years is evidence of the rhetoric used by gun control supporters. Listing and mentioning the victims of gun violence by name and sometimes accompanied by pictures, suggests a strong focus on emotions.

4.2 Rhetorical strategies at the micro level 4.2.1 Variations of syntax and lexicon Lexical style When referring to the specific perpetrator, but also perpetrators in school shootings in general, LaPierre calls them “insane killers”. Even though it may be tough to find anyone who disagrees with labeling them as such, he still could have used a more objective and plain term. When referring to the damage they may cause in schools, LaPierre uses the expression “maximum mayhem” which reinforces the meaning of the feasible damage. The terms “monsters” and “predators” are used in reference to perpetrators who commit shootings at schools. These terms are metaphors and they are used to reinforce the image of the perpetrators as being inhumane. When referring to the children, LaPierre applies adjectives, such as “beloved”, “innocent” and “vulnerable”. In relation to the teachers, he applies adjectives, such as “brave”, “heroic” and “self-sacrificing” and the police he calls “prompt”, “professional” and “well-trained”. Syntactic style “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” LaPierre states (Pt. 2 1:57). The repeated use of the word “gun” makes it a parallelism and the sentence emphasizes what the NRA proposes, namely more armed security. LaPierre asks: “Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away or from a minute away?” (Pt. 2 2:06) This sentence contains another parallelism by initially paring the word “away” with mile and then with the word “minute”. The sentence reinforces the argument that the “good guy with a gun” ought to be in the school and not miles away.

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen LaPierre asks: “But since when did the gun automatically become a bad word? A gun in the hands of a secret service agent protecting our president isn’t a bad word. A gun in the hands of a soldier protecting the United States of America isn’t a bad word” (Pt. 2 2:48). The repetition of the phrase “bad word” throughout the citation makes it a parallelism. The part where LaPierre urges (Pt. 3 1:09): “I call on every parent, I call on every teacher, I call on every school administrator, every law enforcement officer in this country to join with us and help create a national school shield safety program to protect our children” also serves as a syntactic tool. The repetition of the phrase “I call on” makes it a parallelism and the present simple form emphasizes the ceremonious mood of the speech.

4.2.2 Rhetoric LaPierre commences his speech by mentioning, that the “four million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters” of the NRA join the rest of the nation in grief over the losses at Sandy Hook. By portraying the members of the NRA as people with families, just like the rest of the nation, he seeks to convey to the audience, that the NRA is an organization of real people with sincere, human emotions. “Whilst some have tried to exploit tragedy for, we have remained respectively silent. Now we must speak for the safety of our nation’s children”, LaPierre expresses (Pt. 1 0:53). A 2001 survey conducted by Fortune magazine appointed the NRA’s lobbying wing the most powerful in Washington (Melzer 2012:233). Adding that to the NRA’s profoundly political agenda, which has already been presented, it may be a questionable move to deny any political agenda, but it conveys sympathy. The second sentence somehow presumes, that the reason for the speech is the “safety of our nation’s children”. On the contrary others may see the speech as a rather defensive response to the tragedy without comprising their Second Amendment beliefs. Furthermore, LaPierre employs Anderson’s notion of the nation as an imagined community (Anderson 1983:49). It is not about being a gun control supporter or a gun control opponent; it is about all American children. LaPierre asks the question (Pt. 1 1:32): “How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?” Being aware of the views and beliefs of the NRA, it comes as no surprise, that the answer is not increased gun control. However, LaPierre does convey an energetic and unhesitating stance towards resolving this issue by emphasizing the urgency of action. Instead, he blames politicians for passing laws on gun-free schools and

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen “bragging” about them in press releases. He argues that they tell “every insane killer” in America, that the schools are “the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk”. LaPierre continues by listing several examples of places and people that Americans care about which are protected by armed guards such as: banks, airports, office buildings, power plants, court houses, sport stadiums, members of Congress and the President. Logically, this may be a compelling argument in favor of the position the NRA chooses to take on this issue. They want armed security in schools and the logic of the juxtapositions will presumably resonate with a portion of Americans. “Yet when it comes to our most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family. Our children. We as a society leave them, everyday, utterly defenseless” LaPierre complains (Pt. 1 3:12). Setting political convictions aside, children are human beings that most people will be sympathetic towards and again there is strong emphasis on the imagined community (Anderson 1983:49) as he depicts the children in schools as part of one, big, unified American family. “And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he has already identified at this very moment? How many more copycats are waiting in wings for their moment of fame?” LaPierre asks (Pt. 1 5:10). These are examples of rhetorical questions (Van Dijk 1993:278) used in the speech. In reference to the lack of a active national data of the mentally ill, LaPierre compares criminals, such as killers, robbers, rapists and gang members to the spread of cancer in the American community. He continues by blaming the gaming industry, the film industry and the music industry for manufacturing and promoting entertainment with violent content. Additionally, he accuses the media of violating and shocking the American people on a daily basis. LaPierre accuses the media of not recognizing their own moral failures and “demonizing lawful gun owners”. In this example, he is trying to stress the fact that media coverage of tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook not only endangers the rights of gun owners in general, but also the rights of law-abiding gun owners. LaPierre commends the teachers and the police, calling the former “brave, heroic and selfsacrificing” and the latter “prompt, professional and well-trained” (Pt. 2 1:11). While having already done a lot of criticizing, these value-laden adjectives serve as a reminder, that the NRA

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen respects and honors the effort made by these people and it also makes the organization seem thankful and sympathetic. At the same time, LaPierre expresses, that these people are not to be blamed in any way and that they are entirely without fault. LaPierre projects the headlines of the newspapers after his speech: “More guns, you’ll claim, are the NRA’s answer to everything. Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools” (Pt. 2 2:23). Judging from the first paragraphs of two articles from major news corporations (Castillo 2012; Pilkington 2012) his projections seemed to be on point. And since he seemed to be aware of how the media would respond, addressing this beforehand comes across as a beneficial, preventive measure. “But since when did the gun automatically become a bad word? A gun in the hands of a secret service agent protecting our president isn’t a bad word. A gun in the hands of a soldier protecting the United States of America isn’t a bad word”, LaPierre expresses (Pt. 2 2:48). The first sentence of the citation is a rhetorical question and the entire citation serves as a comparison. The purpose of the comparison seems to be highlighting some of the instances where being armed is deemed appropriate and then juxtaposing it to instances, where the general consensus seems to be, that it is not appropriate. LaPierre starts talking about the school principal who had to surrender her life in order to protect the children: “No one, regardless of personal, political prejudice has the right to impose that sacrifice” (Pt. 2 5:04). Implicitly, he is actually blaming the gun control advocates and whoever else may oppose the idea of armed security in schools, of being responsible for the death of the school principal. “Politicians have no business and no authority denying us the right, the ability and the moral imperative to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm”, LaPierre declares (Pt. 2 6:34). He is essentially referring to the Second Amendment, which today is believed to ensure the constitutionally protected, legal right of civilian gun ownership (Waldman 2014:153). LaPierre urges: “I call on every parent, I call on every teacher, I call on every school administrator, every law enforcement officer in this country to join with us and help create a national school shield safety program to protect our children” (Pt. 3 1:08). The notion of the imagined community (Anderson 1983:49) is again emphasized by using the phrase “in this country”, the word “national” and the phrase “our children”.

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen

4.2.3 Discourse pragmatics Speech acts The first 40 seconds of the speech is devoted to condoling expressives (Austin & Searle 1975 cited in Moghaddam 2012) focusing on the horrific and incomprehensible loss suffered by the bereaved families. The speech also includes directives, for instance, when LaPierre asks the audience to think about all of the other instances where armed security is used. A declaration is used when LaPierre utters: “That must change now”. When LaPierre commends the teachers and the police, it can be construed as thanking expressives (Pt. 2 1:11) (Austin & Searle 1975 cited in Moghaddam 2012). The Locutionary Act (Oishi 2006:3) In general, LaPierre speaks in a slow manner with emphasis on important phrases and appropriate pauses when he wants to stress meaning. He begins his speech with “good morning” followed by a long pause, which signals the earnestness of the speech. He says: “no one, nobody” with a slightly more rapid pronunciation of nobody in order to emphasis his intend with two words meaning the same (Pt. 1 1:21). When describing the school principal, who was left alone and unarmed with the children, LaPierre utters the words “her life” and repeats them immediately after in a desperate and despairing voice (Pt. 2 5:33). This seems to be done in order to emphasize the fact that a life was lost that day. Four seconds later the same pattern occurs with the word “no one”. As LaPierre blames the president for “zeroing out school emergency planning grants in last year’s budget and scrapping “secure our schools” policing grants in next year’s budget” there seems to be an interesting change of intonation (Pt. 2 6:00). LaPierre moves from speaking pleadingly and tenderly about the loss of the school principal’s life to a more lackluster and frosty tone. The Illocutionary Act (Oishi 2006:4) The first 40 seconds begin with behabitives as the Executive Vice President expresses his condolences to the bereaved. When LaPierre moves on to blaming politicians for “bragging” about gun-schools, it is verdictives. Expositives are used when he conveys arguments for armed security in schools by listing examples of other situations where apparently, such

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen security measures are necessary. As LaPierre talks about the decrease in federal gun prosecutions, he is using verdictives as he blames the government for not prosecuting properly in cases of gun violence. Verdictives are also used when the gaming industry, the film industry, the music industry and the media is blamed for promoting violence. “As parents we do everything we can to keep our children safe. It is now time for us to assume responsibility for our schools” LaPierre says (Pt. 2 1:34). In these sentences he uses commissives in an effort to appeal to the parents in order for them to take responsibility. When LaPierre refers to the lone, unarmed school principal, he is using verdictives again seeing as he implicitly exercises judgment on gun control advocates. LaPierre criticizes the government again; more specifically the President for neglecting security in schools and again it is a verdictive (Pt. 2 6:01). “Politicians have no business and no authority denying us the right, the ability and the moral imperative to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm”, LaPierre, as earlier noted, declares (Pt. 2 6:34). One the one hand he is referring to the Second Amendment, but it is also an exercitive seeing as he exercises power by implicitly demonstrating the significant political power of the NRA. LaPierre commends the police, the military, security professionals, firefighters and rescue personnel and in doing so, he uses behabitives (Pt. 2 6:47). In the last minutes of the speech, LaPierre uses commissives as he urges parents, teachers, school administrators and law enforcement officers to assist the NRA in protecting American children.

4.2.4 Merged summary of macro- and micro level analysis In the macro level analysis, the three most dominant rhetorical strategies were determined to be scapegoating, comparisons and avoidance. The purpose of scapegoating seems to be removing attention from the NRA and on to scapegoats. The comparisons seem to serve as examples, that display alleged hypocrisy and enhance the argument for armed security in schools. Lastly, avoidance seems to signal unwillingness to compromise or even discuss the notion of more gun control.

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen The micro level analysis found that LaPierre, lexically, relies on strong, derogatory vocabulary when referring to perpetrators and he uses strong, endearing adjectives when referring to the children. Addressing the teachers and the police, he applies laudatory adjectives. On syntax level, there are numerous examples parallelisms and they serve as tools to enhance the efficiency of the message. The most frequently applied illocutionary act is verdictives and that stems from the repeated act of passing blame on to other entities.

5. Perspective In February 2015, a proposal was made by the federal law enforcement organization the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to ban .223 M855 “green tip” ammunition used with the popular AR-15 rifle (used in the Sandy Hook shooting and the Aurora shooting) (Lott 2015). Conservative media quickly accused the Obama administration of stealthy pursuing more gun control (Lerner 2015). The NRA and its allies quickly took action and began urging their supporters to issue comments to the ATF through their representatives. The ATF received more than 80.000 critical comments, which resulted in a delay of the proposal for “further study” (Lerner 2015). “The president hates guns, he always has”, Chris Cox, Executive Director of NRA-ILA, declared in an interview (Cox 2015). Cox vowed that the 5 million members of the NRA are going to fight this proposal every step of the way and that the NRA will work to elect a president who refrains from disrespecting the Second Amendment. With the upcoming 2016 presidential election, federal gun laws and legislation may soon be subject to alteration. Almost all of the likely Republican candidates spoke at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the Annual Meeting in Nashville a couple of weeks back (Berenson 2015). If the next president of the United States of America is Republican, this may result in easing of federal gun laws and legislation under the influence of the NRA. Through this paper, the connection between the NRA and the Republican Party has become clear. It has been argued, that the NRA consists mostly of conservatives and the cash flow from the NRA to the Republican Party has been demonstrated. Thus, the general rhetoric of

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen the Republicans and the Party becomes an interesting subject for scrutiny. Are there similarities in the discourse of Republican politicians and the NRA? Moreover, these speeches at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum would also serve as apt subjects for critical discourse analysis. How do the Republican candidates connect with NRA members through discourse?

6. Conclusion This paper has found that the NRA is an elite institution seeking to control public discourse on the subject of gun legislation. Rendering the protection and preservation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as their primary aim, the NRA has a strong political agenda which is managed through ILA. With the support of more than 5 million members and a powerful firearms industry, the NRA continues to dominate legislation and public opinion by using financial incentives and discourse. Widely considered as one the most powerful lobbying organizations in Washington (Melzer 2012; Hickey 2012; Cillizza 2012), the NRA has privileged access to discourse. In this case, the NRA stages a press conference, spawning massive media coverage and LaPierre delivers a speech with strong political connotations. Given the fact that the NRA membership has actually increased since the Newtown shootings (Abad-Santos 2012), one may conclude that the NRA has major influence on the mind management on, not only its members, but also on society in general. Adding that membership increase to the growing public support for gun rights also after the Newtown shooting (Pew Research Center 2014), speculations on the effectiveness of this speech may even be reasonable. The scrupulously written speech acts as NRA’s defense in the wake of the Newtown shooting. The NRA’s call for armed security in every school is clearly the main theme and argument in the speech. In order to convey this argument, LaPierre applies scapegoating to put the blame on others, comparisons to suggest hypocrisy and avoidance to shun the topic of gun control. Apart from the three main rhetorical strategies analyzed, he also ensures the American people that the NRA has the same long-term aim as everybody else; to prevent this from happening again and to protect the children. LaPierre also uses endearing expressions about the children and laudatory expressions about the teachers and the police.

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen The rhetorical strategy of avoidance, however, may be construed as the most important one. The underlying motives of colonial history, the Bill of Rights and frontier masculinity seems to be the reasons why the former two rhetorical strategies are even necessary.

7. References  Abad-Santos, A. (2012) NRA Says Membership Has Increased Since the Newtown Shootings. The Wire, [online] 19 December. Available at: http://www.thewire.com/politics/2012/12/nra-membership-has-increasednewtown-shootings/60185/ [Accessed 28 April].  Anderson, B. (1983) Imagined communities. 48-59. Available at: https://www2.bc.edu/marian-simion/th406/readings/0420anderson.pdf [Accessed 7 April].  Berenson, T. (2015) Republican Candidates Didn’t Just Talk Guns at NRA Event. TIME, [online] 10 April. Available at: http://time.com/3818154/nra-conference-presidentialcandidates/ [Accessed 30 April].  Berlow, A. and Witkin, G. (2014) Gun lobby’s money and power still holds sway over Congress. The Center for Public Integrity, [online] 19 May. Available at: http://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/05/01/12591/gun-lobbys-money-and-powerstill-holds-sway-over-congress [Accessed 25 April].  Bowers, J. W., Ochs, D. J., Jensen, R. J. and Schulz, D. P. (2010) The Rhetoric of Agitation and Control. USA: Waveland Press.  Bykowicz, J. (2013) NRA Raised $256 Million Last Year. Bloomberg business, [online] 19 December. Available at: http://go.bloomberg.com/political-capital/2013-12-19/nraraised-256-million-last-year/ [Accessed 15 April].

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen  Castillo, M. (2012) NRA clear on gun debate stance: arm schools. CNN, [online] 22 December. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/21/us/connecticut-schoolshooting/ [Accessed 4 April].  Cillizza, C. (2012) A story of the NRA’s influence – in 2 charts. The Washington Post, [online] 19 December. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/thefix/wp/2012/12/19/a-story-of-the-nras-influence-in-2-charts/ [Accessed 26 April].  CNN (2012) Sandy Hook shooting: What happened? Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2012/12/us/sandy-hook-timeline/ [Accessed 20 April].  Codianni, A. (2014) Sandy Hook 2 years later: One senator’s push for gun control. CNN, [online] 12 December. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/12/12/politics/sandy-hook-two-years-later-chrismurphy/ [Accessed 26 April].  Cornell University Law School (2015) 2th Amendment. Available at: https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/second_amendment [Accessed 5 April].  Cornell University Law School (2015) 18th Amendment. Available at: https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxviii [Accessed 5 April].  Cox, C. (2015) ‘This President Hates Guns’: NRA Vows to Fight Proposed Ammo Ban. Interviewed by Megyn Kelly. Fox News Insider, [online] 4 March. Available at: http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/03/04/president-hates-guns-nra-vows-fightproposed-ammo-ban [Accessed 5 May].  Donaldson-Evans, C. and The Associated Press (2005) Sharpton to buy Stock in Record Companies. Fox News, [online] 23 March. Available at:

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen http://www.foxnews.com/story/2005/03/23/sharpton-to-buy-stock-in-recordcompanies/ [Accessed 20 April].  Eaton, J. (2012) Full NRA Press Conference: Wayne LaPierre Responds to Sandy Hook School Shooting 1/3. [video online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc1bwWFw3PU [Accessed 2 April].  Eaton, J. (2012) Full NRA Press Conference: Wayne LaPierre Responds to Sandy Hook School Shooting 2/3. [video online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkgiXI-OVSE [Accessed 2 April].  Eaton, J. (2012) Full NRA Press Conference: Wayne LaPierre Responds to Sandy Hook School Shooting 3/3. [video online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05Jhwv07ORE [Accessed 2 April].  Hennessy, F. (2013) NRA’s black commentator becomes Web sensation. Los Angeles Times, [online] 23 July. Available at: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-blackguns-nra-20130723-dto-htmlstory.html [Accessed 11 April].  Hickey, W. (2012) How The NRA Became The Most Powerful Special Interest in Washington. Business Insider, [online] 18 December. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/nra-lobbying-money-national-rifle-associationwashington-2012-12?IR=T [Accessed 26 April].  Korte, G. (2013a) Post-Newtown, NRA membership surges to 5 million. USA Today, [online] 4 May. Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/05/04/nra-meeting-lapierremembership/2135063/ [Accessed 20 April].  Korte, G. (2013b) New NRA leader says Obama seeks ‘revenge’ on gun owners. USA Today, [online] 6 May. Available at:

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/05/05/new-nrapresident/2137127/ [Accessed 20 April].  Lerner, A. B. (2015) Obama administration drops proposed ammo ban after conservative outcry. Politico, [online] 10 March. Available at: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/obama-administration-drops-proposedammo-ban-after-conservative-outcry-115965.html [Accessed 1 May].  Lott, M. (2015) Lawmakers won’t be silenced over Obama administration’s proposed ammo ban. Fox News, [online] 28 February. Available at: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/02/28/lawmakers-wont-be-silenced-overobama-administration-proposed-ammo-ban/ [Accessed 1 May].  Melzer, S. (2009) Gun Crusaders: The NRA’s Culture War. New York: New York University Press.  Moghaddam, M. M. (2012) Discourse Structures of Condolence Speech Act. Journal of English Language 10, 105-125.  N/A (2001) Agency Faults Music Industry for Violent Material. The New York Times, [online] 25 April. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/25/us/agencyfaults-music-industry-for-violent-material.html [Accessed 20 April].  NRA (2015) Front page. Available at: http://home.nra.org [Accessed 29 April].  NRA-ILA (2015) About the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. Available at: https://www.nraila.org/about/ [Accessed 29 April].  NRA On the Record (2015) Member Profile. Available at: http://www.nraontherecord.org/wayne-lapierre/ [Accessed 28 April].

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen  Oishi, E. (2006) Austin’s speech act theory and the speech situation. Esercizi Filosofici 1, 1-14. Available at: http://www2.units.it/eserfilo/art106/oishi106.pdf [Accessed 10 April].  Park, A. (2014) Little By Little, Violent Video Games Make Us More Aggressive. TIME, [online] 24 March. Available at: http://time.com/34075/how-violent-video-gameschange-kids-attitudes-about-aggression/ [Accessed 23 April].  Pearson, M. (2012) Gunman turns ‘Batman’ screening into real-life ‘horror-film’. CNN, [online] 21 July. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/20/us/coloradotheater-shooting/ [Accessed 21 April].  Pew Reseach Center (2014) Growing Public Support for Gun Rights. More Say Guns Do More to Protect Than Put People at Risk. Available at: http://www.peoplepress.org/2014/12/10/growing-public-support-for-gun-rights/ [Accessed 10 April].  Phillips, C. (1992) Texas death renews debate over violent rap lyrics. Los Angeles Times, [online] 17 September. Available at: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-metupactropper17sep1792-story.html#page=2 [Accessed 20 April].  Pilkington, E. (2012) NRA chief breaks post-Newtown silence to call for armed guards at schools. The Guardian, [online] 21 December. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/dec/21/nra-newtown-armed-guardsschools [Accessed 4 April].  Power, M. R. (1998) Chapter 2: Persuasion, structure and language devices. Working Through Communication. 21-30. Available at: http://epublications.bond.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=working _through_communication [Accessed 20 April].

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen  Quinn, J. (n.d.) Political Conservatives & Religion in Politics. About News, [online] Available at: http://usconservatives.about.com/od/churchstate/qt/Religion_in_Politics.htm [Accessed 25 April].  Richardson, J. E. (2000) ”Now is the time to put an end to all this.” Argumentative Discourse Theory and Letters to the Editor. Available at: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/polopoly_fs/1.71452!/file/richardson.pdf [Accessed 15 April].  Scheerer, M. (1999) Cranking up the volume on the violent-lyrics debate. CNN, [online] 1 July. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/Music/9907/01/music.violence/ [Accessed 20 April].  Stets, J. E. and Burke, P. (2000) Femininity/Masculinity. Encyclopedia of Sociology. 1-21. Available at: http://wat2146.ucr.edu/Papers/00b.pdf [Accessed 11 April].  Sullivan, M. (2005) Media bias is real, finds UCLA political scientist. UCLA Newsroom, [online] 14 December. Available at: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/Media-BiasIs-Real-Finds-UCLA-6664 [Accessed 25 April].  Van Dijk, T. A. (1977) Semantic Macro-Structures and Knowledge Frames in Discourse Comprehension. Cognitive Processes in Comprehension. 3-32. Available at: http://www.discourses.org/OldArticles/Semantic%20MacroStructures%20and%20Knowledge%20Frames%20in%20Discourse.pdf [Accessed 15 April].  Van Dijk, T. A. (1988) News as Discourse. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum.

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Author: Christian Harring Study number: 201209214 Supervisor: Karen Korning Zethsen  Van Dijk, T. A. (1993) Principles of critical discourse analysis. Discourse & society vol. 4(2), 249-283. Available at: http://www.discourses.org/OldArticles/Principles%20of%20critical%20discourse%2 0analysis.pdf [Accessed 2 April].  Van Dijk, T. A. (1995) Power and the news media. Political Communication and Action. 9-36. Available at: http://www.discourses.org/OldArticles/Power%20and%20the%20news%20media.p df [Accessed 25 April].  Van Dijk, T. A. (2006) Discourse and manipulation. Discourse & society Vol 17(2). 359383. Available at: http://www.discourses.org/OldArticles/Discourse%20and%20manipulation.pdf [Accessed 11 April].  Wadhwani, A. (2015) NRA members size up Republican hopefuls. USA Today, [online] 10 April. Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2015/04/10/nraconvention-reaction-republican-candidates/25588469/ [Accessed 25 April].  Waldman, M. (2014) The Second Amendment: A Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster.  Wikia (n.d.) Teun A. van Dijk. Available at: http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Teun_A._van_Dijk [Accessed 1 May].  Yourish, K., Andrews, W., Buchanan, L. and McLean, A. (2013) State Gun Laws Enacted in the Year Since Newtown. The New York Times, [online] 10 December. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/10/us/state-gun-laws-enacted-inthe-year-since-newtown.html?_r=0 [Accessed 25 April].

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