‘Thoughts and prayers’: NRA mocked with familiar words of sympathy

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“It’s too soon to talk about the NRA.”

“The rush to judgment doesn’t help the victims.”

“Now is not the time to politicize this event.”

Thoughts and prayers to the NRA.”

Critics used gun supporters’ own clichés against them on Thursday, after New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA). The lawsuit accuses the NRA of illegally diverting tens of millions of dollars over the years for the benefit of its top executives, including longtime leader Wayne LaPierre.

Read more: New York AG sues, seeks to dissolve National Rifle Association

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“It’s clear that the NRA has been failing to carry out its stated mission for many, many years and instead has operated as a breeding ground for greed, abuse and brazen illegality,” James said at a news conference on Thursday. “Enough was enough. We needed to step in and dissolve this corporation.”

Late-night hosts, activists, celebrities, left-leaning politicians and others offered their sarcastic “thoughts and prayers” in response to the news, echoing an empty refrain often heard in the wake of a mass shooting in the United States.

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“Thoughts and prayers to the NRA,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, tweeted on Thursday. “In Washington, we will continue to fight for common sense gun safety.”

“Wow, the NRA as we know it could be gone,” said Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon during his monologue on Thursday. “Aww. Thoughts and prayers.”

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Several high-profile gun control activists applauded the lawsuit and offered their own snarky “thoughts and prayers” on Twitter Thursday.

“We should paint ‘thoughts and prayers’ in front of the NRA’s headquarters,” wrote David Hogg, a student who survived the Parkland school shooting in 2018.

Many have denounced “thoughts and prayers” as a useless and clichéd response to mass shootings over the years. The phrase has inspired many tongue-in-cheek memes and jokes, including a 2016 parody video game in which “thoughts” and “prayers” do nothing.

Nevertheless, lawmakers of all political stripes have used the term in response to various tragedies, including gun violence, devastating hurricanes and COVID-19.

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Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and an ally of U.S. President Donald Trump, was widely mocked last summer after suggesting that a “lack of thoughts and prayers is probably the single biggest factor” behind mass shootings in the U.S.

Although critics were eager to dunk on the NRA Thursday, its supporters and allies — including President Trump — were just as quick to come to its defence.

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The NRA repeated one of its own common refrains late Thursday, quoting former leader Charlton Heston’s defiant words about his guns. “From our cold, dead hands,” it tweeted.

The NRA claims the lawsuit is a political hit job.

The suit comes at a difficult time for the gun-rights group, which has been going through an internal power struggle and an ongoing dispute with Ackerman McQueen, the advertising firm that once ran NRA TV.

With files from The Associated Press

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