When Wayne La Pierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association (NRA), gave a press conference in Washington to address the tragedy in Newtown, he blamed mass shootings not on the availability of assault weapons in the US, but on violence in popular culture.
But the NRA’s National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia, has its own exhibition entitled “Hollywood Guns”. Speaking at his organisation’s press conference on 23 December, Mr LaPierre condemned “blood-soaked films… like American Psycho... and Natural Born Killers”. He said Hollywood has “the nerve to call it entertainment.… Isn’t fantasising about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography”?
But a gun-control advocate, Tom Diaz, who is a senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Centre, said in his blog this week that the NRA and the gun industry exploit the popularity of violent films to sell more firearms. “It would be hard to find a more hypocritical statement.”
Among the items on display in the exhibition – for which Mr LaPierre is credited as “executive producer” – are the .44 Magnum from Dirty Harry, a Beretta used by Bruce Willis in Die Hard and the Remington shotgun used by Javier Bardem’s hitman in No Country for Old Men.