The National Rifle Association is facing scrutiny over publishing a magazine spread that depicts House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Rep. Gabby Giffords, a victim of gun violence, next to a large headline that reads “Target Practice.”
Lawmakers and advocates decried the American Rifleman layout as offensive on Saturday afternoon after Huffington Post reporter Jennifer Bendery shared pictures of the magazine on Twitter. From there, it went viral and was circulated to other lawmakers and Pelosi’s daughter.
“We must condemn this intentional, outrageous criminal incitement,” Christine Pelosi tweeted Saturday. “We cannot allow this hate speech to stop common-sense gun violence prevention.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell of California also condemned the magazine spread and characterized it as a “call for violence.” He urged his followers to boycott the NRA, which publishes American Rifleman.
“The NRA should face legal consequences,” he tweeted. “But let’s put them out of business with boycotts and ballot boxes. #EnoughIsEnough.”
Fred Guttenberg, who became an advocate for gun control after his daughter Jaime was killed at the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, echoed his concerns. He told Newsweek that the picture ultimately “reinforces the notion that they are a terror group.”
The NRA did not immediately return Newsweek’s request for comment.
The magazine spread, which appears in the March 2019 print and online edition, features an article about congressional efforts to increase gun legislation. Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s lobbying branch, wrote the piece and identified Pelosi as the “arch anti-gunner.” The cover of the magazine, meanwhile, features what appears to be a FN 15, a semi-automatic firearm modeled after the M16A4 used by the U.S. military next to the words “In Defense of the Rifle.” Advertising materials boast that the weapon is “directly from the front lines to your collection.”
Both Pelosi and Giffords have been targeted for their political work. In 2011, Giffords was shot in the head in a failed assassination attempt in Arizona during a meeting with community members. She survived the attack and went on to found Americans for Responsible Solutions, a super pac that supports gun control initiatives. The group rebranded as “Giffords” in 2016.
Pelosi, meanwhile, has faced numerous threats, including one earlier this month from Christopher Paul Hasson, a self-proclaimed “white nationalist” who federal prosecutors say was plotting an attack on Democratic lawmakers. He was arrested earlier this month in Maryland, where investigators claim he had been stockpiling firearms to use in the alleged attack.
This latest incident is hardly the first time the NRA has faced criticism for its media content, which includes the magazine and NRA-TV. Several advertisements, particularly those produced in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, massacre in February 2018, were labeled as offensive and inflammatory by opponents.