An undercover comedian crashed the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Houston, Texas, and sarcastically thanked the organization’s president for his repeated “thoughts and prayers” following deadly mass shootings across the US over the years, including one just three days previously where 21 people were killed at a school across the state.
Jason Selvig of the Good Liars, which pranks public figures, stood up to speak when NRA members were allowed to address the group’s chief executive since 1991, Wayne LaPierre, according to a social media video posted by the comedy group.
“They all say that Wayne LaPierre isn’t doing enough to stop these mass shootings, and even implying that Wayne LaPierre has played a part in making it easier for these shooters to get guns, to weapons,” Selvig said, referring to the NRA leader’s opposition to gun reform.
Selvig recited a list of mass murders in the country over the last three decades, including 13 at Colorado’s Columbine high school in 1999, 32 at Virginia Tech in 2007, 26 at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook elementary school in 2012 and 49 at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in 2016.
He also mentioned the 59 dead at a Las Vegas music festival in 2017, 17 at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in 2018, 23 at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in 2019, and 10 at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, on 14 May this year.
“You kept hearing [after each] that Wayne LaPierre isn’t doing enough, and frankly that’s not true,” Selvig continued.
“The NRA under Wayne LaPierre’s leadership has provided thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families and maybe these mass shootings would stop happening if we all thought a little bit more and we prayed a little bit more.
“We give enough of these thoughts and these prayers, these mass shootings will stop.”
Selvig wrapped up his remarks with: “I want to thank you, Wayne LaPierre, for all your thoughts and all your prayers.”
While LaPierre didn’t interrupt Selvig’s comments, he seemed to catch on that he was being trolled. He scowled and frowned as Selvig repeatedly uttered the phrase “thoughts and prayers”, words that critics say are used by opponents of meaningful gun control to deflect responsibility for action after mass shootings.
Nonetheless, a number of audience members didn’t seem to catch on and politely applauded Selvig.
The video of Selvig’s speech had been viewed more than 8m times as of Tuesday morning.
The NRA’s decision to stage its convention on Friday after 19 children and two teachers were shot dead at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on 24 May drew protesters outside the event site.
The conference highlighted the nation’s deep divide on gun control, with attendees shrugging off demonstrators’ concerns and anger and instead emphasizing school safety and mental health.
Selvig, along with Good Liars collaborator Davram Stiefler, had previously targeted one of the convention’s highest-profile speakers, former president Donald Trump. After Trump lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden, Selvig and Stiefler bought the online domain name DonaldJTrump2024.com and – despite making it sound like a bid for re-election – filled it with text reading “Trump Lost”, “Trump Is a Loser” and “Trump Lost the Election”.