Recording shows how the NRA discussed a response to Columbine shooting in 1999

Newly disclosed recordings share the National Rifle Association’s immediate response to the Columbine shooting in 1999.

National Public Radio (NPR) obtained the two-and-a-half-hour audio file from an anonymous NRA member who secretly recorded the discussion. The publication claims they verified the other voices of executives, lobbyists, and consultants on the call.

“I got to tell you, we got to think this thing through because if we tuck tail and run, we’re going to be accepting responsibility for what happened out there,” NRA official Jim Land is heard saying in the call.

“That’s one very good argument, Jim,” PR consultant Tony Makris responds. “On the other side, if you don’t appear to be deferential in honoring the dead, you end up being a tremendous s***head who wouldn’t tuck tail and run, you know? So it’s a double-edged sword.”

The NRA’s annual convention was to be hosted near Columbine in the coming days, however, after the shooting, the association canceled the event. 

On the call, members suggested donating to a victims’ fund but questioned the optics. NRA official Kayne Robinson said, “Is there something concrete that we can offer? Not because guns are responsible, but because we care about these people? Is there anything? … Does that look crass or …”

For decades before Columbine and after, the NRA has been a point of contention after every mass shooting and the center of gun control arguments. To listen to the complete call audio, visit NPR.

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