The National Rifle Association is being pelted with criticism after posting the astounding headline “Target Practice” in its magazine next to a photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a shooting victim.
The furor erupted Saturday after HuffPost senior politics reporter Jennifer Bendery tweeted a screenshot of the magazine spread that appeared in American Rifleman, which is published by the gun lobbyist organization. The article examines Democrats’ efforts to strengthen gun control, claiming that legislators are attempting to “target gun owners for persecution.” (One Twitter response characterized that phrase as a built-in excuse for the NRA to use in the face of aghast reactions to the headline.)
The large headline for the article “Target Practice” is next to a photo prominently featuring Pelosi. Giffords stands next to her. Giffords suffered catastrophic injuries in 2011 when she was shot in the head at a Tucson mall where she was speaking to constituents. Six people were killed in the gunman’s attack.
Giffords later founded a political action committee supporting gun control. Her husband, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, is now running for the Arizona Senate seat formerly held by the late John McCain.
The controversial spread appears in the Rifleman’s March issue. Pelosi is identified in the piece, written by chief NRA lobbyist Chris Cox, as the “arch anti-gunner.”
The NRA is apparently incensed that Congress will vote next week on the bipartisan bill H.R. 8 to require universal background checks for gun buyers. The photo of Pelosi and Giffords used in the magazine was taken as the women announced the measure last month — on the eighth anniversary of the day Giffords was shot.
Twitter melted down over the startling juxtaposition of the headline next to NRA “foes.” Pelosi’s daughter Christine slammed the headline in a tweet as an “intentional, outrageous criminal incitement.”
Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg, who was killed in the mass shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, said the page design was no accident, and also branded it an incitement to violence.
The NRA did not respond to HuffPost request for comment.