PBS' "Frontline" is required watching for many of us public radio types, and last night was no exception.
The documentary show's new episode "Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA" explains the rise and continued lobbying strength of the National Rifle Association, including its successful defense of federal gun laws following the Columbine massacre in 1999.
It features Tom Mauser, the father of Columbine shooting victim Daniel Mauser.
"We had to spend that night not knowing if he was dead or alive," Mauser said in the film. "You cry a lot. ... What can you do? You're helpless."
Brian Lowry, TV columnist for "Variety," praises the film for tracing the NRA's path from a "relatively benign" organization to its current status as a lobbying heavy weight.
The seminal moment, however, came in 1999, when the NRA vigorously pushed back against the public’s understandable horror over the school shooting at Columbine High School, with then-front-man Charlton Heston famously brandishing a rifle and dramatically intoning, “From my cold, dead hands.” ...
Among those interviewed, perhaps the most salient point that keeps emerging is the NRA’s savvy, now under the leadership of Wayne LaPierre, in remaining vigilant and steadfast even in the wake of new tragedies, such as the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary or of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, realizing that while the group’s commitment to the sanctity of firearms is unwavering, the public is apt to get distracted in its opposition, and move on.