NRA Blocks Taggants: ‘The Blaze’ Goes After Lawrence O’Donnell’s Accurate Claim

Last night on MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” host Lawrence O’Donnell said, “The NRA’s efforts to guarantee that American mass murderers are the best-equipped mass murders in the world is not limited to murderers who use assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

O’Donnell, with his usual flare for drama (he was a writer and producer for “The West Wing” after all), was talking about the National Rifle Association’s successful effort to block “taggants” in gunpowder. Taggants are microscopic substances added to  products to identify the time and source of manufacturing. The additional of taggants to the gunpowder used in the Boston Marathon bombs might have aided the investigation, but we will never know, because gunpowder is taggant-free thanks to the NRA.

“The NRA is also in the business of helping bombers get away with their crimes. Gunpowder could be traced by investigators to a buyer at the point of sale if gunpowder contained a taggant, an element that would enable tracing of the purchase of gunpowder,” said O’Donnell. “But thanks to the National Rifle Association, identification taggants are required by law only in plastic explosives. The NRA has successfully blocked any requirements for such taggants in gunpowder. So such supremely helpful evidence as taggants are not available to the FBI in this investigation.”

The conservative website “The Blaze,” takes issue with O’Donnell’s accusations, but author Becket Adams fails to successfully dispute O’Donnell’s claim, going after style instead. “[N]o one was more adamant about their hatred for the NRA than MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell who last night accused the civil rights group of aiding and abetting the terrorist(s) responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings,” said Adams.

Did you know the NRA is a civil rights group? Funny, I thought civil rights were human rights, as in, things humans can do with their minds and their person — freely. The Second Amendment is a guarantee to a material right, not a civil right. Therefore, the NRA is not a civil rights group.

“So, whether they know it or not, NRA members apparently fund an organization that’s in the business of equipping mass murderers,” said Adams. “Learn something new every day.” I find the later highly unlikely.

On substance, O’Donnell is correct, and a Los Angeles Times article from 1996 backs him up. “The new federal budget bill funds a study of whether taggants can trace explosives in bombs like the one that blasted the revelers in Centennial Olympics Park,” said John Shepard Wiley Jr. “Law enforcement has favored this sensible policy for years, but the powerful National Rifle Assn. has blocked the measure.” The NRA’s opposition to taggants is due to their usual paranoia about federal government overreach. But the NRA’s values do not line up with most Americans.

The addition of taggants to gunpowder could aid the FBI’s investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing. And federal investigators have known this for decades. “Taggants are not new,” said John Shepard Wiley Jr. from that 1996 LA Times article. “In the late 1970s, a federal pilot project added taggants to explosives. When a 1979 car bomb killed Nathan Allen of Baltimore, taggant evidence from the bomb led investigators to Allen’s murderer.”

So The Blaze goes after O’Donnell, but they fail to recognize that nothing O’Donnell reported was inaccurate. O’Donnell may have engaged in a bit of dramatic hyperbole, but his substance was sound.

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