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NRA responds; Krull reloads


  • Courtesy of Chicken Billy

Editor's note: On March 13, we ran John Krull's column on the National Rifle Association's endorsement of Richard Mourdock for U.S. senator. That inspired the following response from the NRA and rebuttal by Krull:

The NRA on endorsing Mourdock

By Chris W. Cox
National Rifle Association

The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech. Your columnist, John Krull, appears to have exercised his constitutional right with little, if any, common sense.

The foundation of democracy is that every vote counts. And people band together to amplify their voice. That's basic civics.

Indiana has tens of thousands of National Rifle Association dues-paying members. Sen. Richard Lugar has not represented their interests or the interests of other gun owners and hunters for decades.

In past Senate races, these voters have not had a viable choice. They do now.

Richard Mourdock has stated his strong support for our hunting heritage, self-defense rights and the Second Amendment.

In stark contrast, Sen. Lugar has demonstrated disdain for gun owners. He has aligned himself out of the bipartisan majority of U.S. senators who signed amicus briefs in the historic Heller and McDonald cases, and in opposition of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty that could severely restrict civilian ownership of firearms in our country.

Mr. Krull's derision of the NRA is an extension of his disgust for the Second Amendment. His prejudice reveals his patent contempt for our Founding Fathers, our Constitution and the democratic process.

Chris W. Cox is chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.

John Krull responds:

The National Rifle Association got its feelings hurt.

Not long ago, Chris Cox, the gun group's chief lobbyist, invited Indiana journalists to a conference call so he could announce that the NRA was endorsing State Treasurer Richard Mourdock in his primary campaign against incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.

During the call, both Cox and Mourdock spoke at length about the commitments Mourdock made to secure the endorsement. Mourdock stopped just short of saying he would drive out to NRA headquarters twice a week to empty the trash cans and mow the lawn.

Cox made a point in the call of saying that the NRA was involved because the rights of Hoosier gun owners were imperiled.

I wrote a column that appeared around the state that made note of two things.

The first was the transactional nature of the endorsement – the fact that the NRA seemed happy to slap a "paid for" sticker on Mourdock's forehead so it could own another U.S. senator.

The second was that Cox's argument about gun rights in Indiana being in danger made no sense. Indiana's state constitution has no qualifying language when it comes to guaranteeing private gun ownership.

Cox fired back with a letter that was – to use a phrase journalists understand – a non-denial denial. He said that I had "little, if any, common sense."

He concluded by saying:

"Mr. Krull's derision of the NRA is an extension of his disgust for the Second Amendment. His prejudice reveals a patent contempt for our Founding Fathers, our Constitution and the democratic process."

In between, he also implied that I don't know or understand Indiana or Hoosiers too well.

(Helpful hint for Mr. Cox: My ancestors settled in Southern Indiana just before the War of 1812 and have stayed here ever since. Unless you've got a Hoosier pedigree stretching back to the first term of President James Madison – you know, the father of the Constitution and the guy who shepherded the Bill of Rights through the first Congress – you might want to stick to arguing the issues rather than suggesting someone's an outsider just because he questions you or your organization. That's particularly true if your mailing address is Fairfax, Va.)

Nowhere in the letter did Cox address either of my two points.

The first would have been easy.

He could have said: We understand that a U.S. senator's first duty is to represent the people of his state and that their interests occasionally might conflict with those of a special interest group such as ours. We would expect Richard Mourdock to vote in the interests of his constituents in those circumstances.

But neither Cox nor Mourdock has said anything like that – Cox because he wants Mourdock to think of himself as the senator from the National Rifle Association rather than the senator from Indiana and Mourdock because he needs the NRA's support to win.

And the second point – the one about the Indiana constitution protecting Hoosier gun owners' rights?

Well, if Cox acknowledged that one, he'd have a hard time scaring the bejabbers out of Indiana gun owners. And, if Hoosier gun owners stop being scared, they also might stop sending the checks to the NRA that, among other things, help pay for Cox's salary.

Cox and the NRA doubtless are going to try to spin this as another assault on the Second Amendment.

It isn't.

I'd be just as upset if some other national special interest group on the left or right tried to buy one of my state's U.S. Senate votes – and on the cheap, at that.

I understand how special interest groups like the NRA work. It doesn't mean I have to like it.

If the NRA wants to buy a U.S. senator and not get criticized, the gun lobby needs to do so in some other state.

But not in my state.

No, sir, not in Indiana.

John Krull is director of Franklin College's Pulliam School of Journalism, host of No Limits WFYI 90.1 FM Indianapolis and executive editor of, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.


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