After a week of silence, the NRA has finally come forward to comment on the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The spokesman for the gun manufacturer’s lobbying group was NRA executive VP Wayne LaPierre.
The speech was a rehash of familiar diversions the NRA uses to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the bloody consequences of the gun culture they advocate. Their obsession with a misreading of the second amendment (which they always ignore makes specific reference to “a well-regulated militia”) takes priority over every other right or freedom in America, including free speech and the right to life.
According to LaPierre, the real killers in America are the producers of movies and video games. And while LaPierre advocates regulating these forms of entertainment, he is adamantly opposed to the sensible regulation of the actual weapons that cause actual fatalities. This is consistent with the hypocrisy of right-wingers who claim to want government off their backs, unless it is to enforce some aspect of their theocratic morality. They chafe at federal efforts to rein in predatory bankers, but are thrilled when government keeps gays from getting married.
The NRA’s core argument against stricter regulation of the most dangerous types of firearms is that “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” The problem with that argument is that it requires everybody have a gun. And, of course, having guns did not help Adam Lanza’s mother. What’s more, statistics show that people with guns in their homes are more likely to be victims of gun violence than those without guns. Often the gunowners weapon is used against them by their assailant.
The only constructive suggestion in LaPierre’s remarks was to hire and station armed guards at every school in America. Aside from turning all campuses into war zones, that would not come close to solving the problem of violence in our society. There are also children at the beach, in shopping malls, at church, in restaurants, and parks, and playgrounds, and libraries. Would LaPierre propose to have armed security at every Chuck E. Cheese and Disney movie?
At one point in his speech LaPierre spun an absurd hypothetical asking what would have happened if there were an armed guard at Sandy Hook. His presumption is that the tragedy would have been averted. However, it might just as likely have resulted in the murder of the guard along with everyone else. Common sense tells us that the killer would be expecting the guard, but the guard would be surprised by the killer. Plus, would the guard be armed with equivalent firepower? If so, that means that all of the guards at the sites we decide to protect would be carrying assault weapons. Seriously? Assault weapons at Chuck E. Cheese and Annie’s Day Care and Toys ‘R’ Us? Surely, nothing bad would come of that.
The NRA approach to public safety would be a throwback to the wild west when everybody was packing heat and there were shootouts in the street. It would turn our society into a battle zone with frightened citizens scrambling to insure that their mode of protection was superior to any other they might encounter. There would be innumerable George Zimmermans patrolling our neighborhoods and slaughtering the innocent.
The NRA manages to find fault in everything but guns. LaPierre cited movies, video games, mental health, and even hurricanes, as the causes of “a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization.” So we are victimized by hurricanes, but not by rapid-fire rifles with 30 round magazines? And at the top of his list was the media about whom he said…
“Throughout it all, too many in our national media, their corporate owners, and their stockholders, act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators.”
On this point I may have to agree with him. The media has been far too timid about addressing the practical issues surrounding gun policy in America. They are cowed by charges that it is “not the right time” to engage in this debate. But according to the NRA it is never the right time. Even now, LaPierre said that “There’ll be time for talk and debate later. This is the time, this is the day for decisive action. We can’t wait for the next unspeakable crime to happen before we act.” Let the absurdity of that statement sink in. He is saying that this issue is so important that we should act without any deliberation. We should just do something, but we must not, under any circumstances, talk about it first.
Always happy to do its part, Fox News has already signed on to LaPierre’s dictate of silence. It was recently disclosed that a Fox executive sent a memo to their producers ordering them to refrain from discussing gun control. And today, Fox is apparently still operating under that edict. They broke into the LaPierre speech late and left it before it concluded, cutting out a full third of the speech. Then they followed the aborted speech with a fiscal cliff panel. While they didn’t have time to show all of LaPierre’s remarks, they did broadcast in full remarks to the press by three GOP senators on a Benghazi report that was released two days ago.
I feel safer already knowing that Fox News and the NRA are aggressively campaigning for the rights of all Americans to live in a society awash with weapons designed for combat. Heavily armed guards in schools and bookstores can only serve to move this country closer to the utopian models of Somalia or Beirut sought by right-wingers where freedom reigns above all and government is small enough to drown in a bathtub.