According to a new Media Matters report, NRA board member Anthony Colandro––who has previously used blatantly Islamophobic and homophobic rhetoric––is now calling the pandemic “bullshit” and spreading conspiracy theories while encouraging people to attend anti-social distancing protests. Media Matters also reports that “Colandro was elected to a one-year term on the NRA board in April of 2019 and is currently running for reelection.”
The Media Matters story, written by Cydney Hargis, captures Colandro’s remarks in full:
- In a April 27 Facebook video, Colandro announced he “may get arrested in Trenton tomorrow at the rally for our right to open New Jersey.” According to Media Matters, he then encouraged “his Facebook followers to come to the protests, which he noted violate New Jersey’s stay-at-home order, and insisted the state police ‘can’t arrest all of us.’”
- When driving to the rally, Colandro reportedly “reassur[ed] viewers that he had a copy of the Constitution in case the police asked ‘where are your papers,’ which he appeared to say in a German accent. He went on to call the pandemic — which he calls the ‘plandemic’ — ‘a bunch of bullshit. Now they want microchipping and cell phone apps and they want to quarantine us in camps and stuff.’”
- At the rally, Colandro said that “we have become a nation of sheep” and “we allow our public masters to dictate our life.” He added that, “We are being spoon-fed socialism every day, and 8.5 million people are just bending over and taking it. They’re talking about tracking our social movements and stuff. You know what? I hope you all get an anal probe with a microchip in it.”
According to Media Matters, this is far from the first endorsement of anti-social distancing protests by the NRA and its associates.
- NRA-ILA: “The NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)… agreed with President Donald Trump’s endorsement of the anti-social distancing protests.”
- NRA Second Vice President Willes Lee: Lee “shared a Daily Caller article on April 19 about anti-social distancing protesters in Texas and wrote ‘Liberate America! The stupidity of lock down when we want to produce.’ Lee also compared the stay-at-home orders to ‘tyranny’ and called the Michigan governor’s decisions ‘stupidity’ in an April 15 tweet about the anti-social distancing protests in Michigan.”
- NRA Board Member Ted Nugent: “Nugent enthusiastically exclaimed that the Michigan protesters ‘are my people’ and encouraged them to ‘never backdown never giveup never givein!’”
The NRA’s messaging during the pandemic has now shifted several times; initially, members of its leadership furthered racist narratives, spread conspiracies, and dismissed the seriousness of the pandemic, then they fear-mongered to sell guns, and now, they have come to embrace anti-social distancing protests. Meanwhile Wayne LaPierre has sought to blame COVID-19 for organizational financial struggles that include layoffs, furloughs, and reduced salaries, despite multiple major stories recently reporting that self-inflicted legal troubles and poor leadership were to blame.