Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FACT CHECK; Bush Left NRA over 'Jack-Booted Thugs'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FACT CHECK; Bush Left NRA over 'Jack-Booted Thugs'

Article excerpt

Byline: Carole Fader

Times-Union readers want to know:

Is it true that former president George H.W. Bush resigned as a Life Member of the National Rifle Association in protest over some statements made by the organization?

A month after the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people and injured 680, the Wilmington Star-News published the following:

"The explosion brought out the best in many Americans. It brought out the worst traits in the NRA, especially its hotheaded hype.

"The most ill-timed screed was an NRA fund-raising letter slamming federal agents as 'armed terrorists dressed in Ninja black ... jack-booted thugs armed to the teeth who break down doors, open fire with automatic weapons and kill law-abiding citizens.'

"Even on TV a week after the blast, NRA [executive vice president] Wayne LaPierre wouldn't disavow the slurs.

"That rabid zealotry is losing the gun lobby its clout and friends in high places - and could self-destruct the NRA with inner feuds.

"The most prominent defector is George Bush, so furious that in effect he ripped up this NRA membership card.

"What steamed Mr. Bush was NRA President Tom Washington's calling the 1993 Waco, Texas, raid an example of 'black-suited, masked, massively armed mobs of screaming, swearing agents invading homes of innocents.'

"The former president, who knew an agent slain at Waco and another in Oklahoma City, flared: 'Your broadside deeply offends my sense of honor and decency ...'"

Bush also did not appreciate the following reference by LaPierre, according to the Los Angeles Times: "Asked if his language was excessive in view of the tragedy, LaPierre said: aeThat's like saying the weather report in Florida on the hurricane caused the damage rather than the hurricane.'"

To protest those statements, George H.W. Bush submitted a letter dated May 3, 1995, to the NRA, resigning his Life Membership in that organization, reported.

The letter, printed in full in The New York Times, read in part: "I was outraged when Mr. Wayne LaPierre ... defended his attack on federal agents as 'jack-booted thugs.' ... Al Whicher, who served on my [United States Secret Service] detail when I was Vice President and President, was killed in Oklahoma City. …

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