Is brown in fashion?

'Jack-Booted Thugs' With NRA Approval?

Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg View. He was executive editor of the Week. He was previously a national affairs writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.
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I checked the National Rifle Association website again today, eager to read the organization's take on the police shooting last weekend of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The web site is chock full of content. It beckons members to participate in the "non-traditional action packed, ever popular 3 Gun competition, utilizing modern sporting rifles, shotguns and pistols."

And there is plenty of more traditional fare, as well, such as asking members for more money. Have you ever thought about "creating a constitutionally centered will?" It entails leaving your estate to the NRA. Imagine how much fun you'll have participating in the "Give a Buck Challenge." And if you want to poke (Bloomberg LP founder) Michael Bloomberg in the eye, the best way to "stop him cold" -- interesting language, that -- is by contributing money to the NRA.

What I was looking for, of course, was outrage over "jack-booted thugs" terrorizing the populace. After fundraising and paranoia, outrage is the NRA's chief product. Whether it's President Barack Obama conspiring to subvert the constitution and strip citizens of self-defense, or former President Bill Clinton deliberately fomenting violent crime as a predicate to gun control, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre has always been extra vigilant about government's potential to abuse its police powers.

"If you have a badge" under the freedom-hating Clinton administration, he said in 1995, "you have the government's go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law-abiding citizens."

I wonder: Has the shooting death of the Missouri teen traumatized LaPierre into silence?

After all, Twitter is full of images of police dressed in camouflage and looking for all the world like a powerful government militia terrorizing the citizens of Ferguson. The NRA has previously lamented "black-suited, masked, massively armed mobs of screaming, swearing agents invading the homes of innocents." LaPierre has expressed grave concern over "federal agents wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms to attack law-abiding citizens." Surely, if anyone in the U.S. is concerned about police forces abusing their lethal powers, it must be LaPierre, self-styled guardian of individual rights, protector of the little guy, scourge of overzealous government agents.

Yet once again, an unarmed black boy or man has been shot dead by police, and LaPierre is silent. I just can't figure it out.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

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Frank Wilkinson at

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