(NEXSTAR) – On Saturday, National Rifle Association associate chief Wayne LaPierre received praise from one attendee of the organization’s Houston meeting, who commended LaPierre’s “thoughts and prayers” in the wake of last week’s mass shooting in Texas, in addition to others.
But the comments, delivered by comedian Jason Selvig were actually a prank intended to mock LaPierre and the NRA to their faces, the Washington Post reports.
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Selvig’s moment at the microphone was captured on video and viewed over eight million times by Tuesday morning.
“I am sick and tired of the leftwing media spreading misinformation about Wayne LaPierre,” said Selvig. “Whenever there’s a mass shooting, they all say that Wayne LaPierre isn’t doing enough to stop these mass shootings… and frankly that’s not true. The NRA, under Wayne LaPierre’s leadership, has provided thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.”
In the video, LaPierre and NRA speakers can be seen listening, seemingly unsure how to react. The audience, meanwhile, politely applauded Selvig – half of the comedy duo The Good Liars, which pranks politicians.
During his speech, Selvig cited not only the Robb Elementary School shooting, but others, including Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, Pulse Nightclub in 2016, and the El Paso Walmart shooting in 2019. In the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, shooting, which left 19 children and two teachers dead, both politicians and the NRA face mounting demands for change from the public.
Selvig concluded his comments by saying: “I’m asking everyone in the room to think, to pray. Give your thoughts and your prayers and your thoughts and your prayers and your prayers and your thoughts. And if we give enough of these thoughts and these prayers, these mass shootings will stop.”
For gun reform advocates, the term “thoughts and prayers” has increasingly become synonymous with empty condolences. The phrase typically trends on social media after mass gun tragedies, as politicians and pro-gun advocates offer sympathy that detractors say is empty.
“The repetition of “thoughts and prayers” is a product of the repetition of mass shootings. And to #ThoughtsAndPrayers critics, the repetition of mass shootings exists because no one is doing much else besides offering thoughts and prayers,” CNN reporter AJ Willingham writes.
Over the weekend, Associated Press reports a bipartisan group of lawmakers met to discuss any possible reform they might be able to agree on. While there’s no general consensus on gun legislation between Democrats and Republicans, Democrats tend to favor increased checks (and a ban of assault rifles), while Republicans lean against it.
Pres. Biden says it’s his “hope” that recent events have caused his fellow lawmakers to “get more rational” on the topic.
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Selvig did not immediately respond to the comment. The Washington Post reached out to the NRA and LaPierre but hasn’t heard back yet.