NRA Shoots Itself In The Foot

After the tragic massacre at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, it is easy to think that an organisation like the National Rifle Association would issue a statement showing concern for the victims in the massacre. Today, the CEO of the NRA, Wayne Lapierre, spoke on live TV to give his organisations take on the tragedy.

Wayne Lapierre

Wayne Lapierre by Gage Skidmore

He did start his speech by expressing his organisations horror at the events of that terrible day, one week ago, that much I will grant. However, as he spoke, he departed from the reality of that days events and those of many other mass shootings in his inability to empathise with the victims of deadly shootings. He did not apologise, or express empathy for the families, or extend condolences to the townsfolk. He used the occasion as an occasion for gun advocacy.

He claimed that some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, while his organisation has remained respectfully silent. People across the sane political spectrum have called for sensible gun laws to restrict access to guns, especially assault weapons, which are nothing but personal weapons of mass destruction. They have also called for limitations on magazines, to restrict them to 10 rounds or less.

These are not political determinations, they are determinations made by rational people who fully understand the enormity and tragedy of all gun violence in this country. It is not political to want a safer country, a country in which children do not have to be afraid that a young thug armed with weapons of almost unbelievable power will burst into their school and massacre innocent children. This is what a sane, sensible person wants for his own, or the children of others. It is not political.

He went on to say that he must now speak for the safety of the country’s children, asking that we not “direct noise and anger” at his organisation as the group that lobbied hardest to relax all and any laws restricting weapons in any way.

The fact of the matter is that his organisation is singly responsible for the ownership of guns in this country, the organisation that pushed for larger and more powerful weapons in all public places, including schools. It is natural that people would want to direct anger at them for the depravity of their actions.

Lapierre claims that when politicians make laws that create gun free zones, including at schools, they “issue press releases bragging about them, post signs advertising them, and in so doing tell insane killers that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk”. So, in his mind, politicians are responsible for luring mass killers to schools to slaughter innocent people. By that token, since there are 132,183 schools in the United States, we should have a school shooting every few minutes.

His answer is simple. Since we have armed guards at banks, airports, office buildings, power plants, even the president is protected by the Secret Service, we should do the same at schools. He says that we leave children utterly defenseless. Now consider the cost of installing just one armed guard at each of those schools. Given an annual salary of around $50,000 for an armed guard, that amounts to $6.6Bn per year.

A single guard is not going to be of much value, so you need more than one. After all, that guard has to eat, take breaks, and relieve himself. In addition, on a school campus, he cannot be everywhere, and since an armed intruder could potentially attack anywhere, you are going to need more than one.

How many do you need? One at each end of the school? At each corner of the perimeter? In each classroom? Each of these guards needs to be paid, needs time off for vacations, sick days, and needs to be relieved by someone.

If you have a single guard for the school, aside from the fact that he cannot be everywhere, who is an attacker going to target first? Clearly, he will want to neutralise the threat, which places the guards life in danger. How are you going to arm the guard? A sidearm? A rifle? An assault weapon? Most weapons are not going to withstand a concerted assault from an attacker.

What does it say to children in school seeing a man with an assault weapon walking around? Would it not seem to be more a prison than a place of learning? Perhaps we should surround the school with high fences, guard dogs, barbed wire and machine gun nests,. Would they then be safer? isnt the answer to reduce the access to weapons of mass destruction? Is this not the sane sensible route?

Is this not what Japan and Australia, Canada, Germany and others have done, successfully? They do not have the continuing spree of shootings, not just mass shooting, but all shootings that we do in this country. This clearly shows, beyond all reasonable doubt that gun control works. It works in those countries, it can work here. The only reason that it does not is the NRA. There is much blood on their hands.

He goes on to claim that there are “people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them”. This statement really sounds like someone who has been out in the sun a little too long.

Every society, anywhere in the world has people who have psychological problems. Most of them, in civilised societies, are being treated by that countries medical system, or in institutions. Most people with psychological problems are more danger to themselves than others. This country has an enormous problem with suicide, caused by guns. If guns were not available to those people, they would most likely be alive today.

To speak of people being evil, or possessed by voices or demons really has no place in an advanced modern society. It is an anachronism that belongs more in the medieval era than in our own. We understand that mental illness is caused not by demons, but by chemical imbalances, damage to the brain, or aberrant DNA. Someone that believes this tripe should really not be allowed to handle weapons of any sort.

Lapierre claims that the media are complicit in these slaughters because of the coverage that these events are given. So society should not be allowed to know when a massacre takes place, we should just be surprised one day when it happens close to home. Coverage brings home to people these disasters can be averted, that if we work together, we can stop them.

He goes on to say that we should create a database of the mentally ill. Really? Everyone with depression, schizophrenia, anyone that has seen a psychiatrist or psychologist or therapist? He speaks of our freedoms, and yet is willing to take people’s freedom away by having them monitored like criminals.

He clearly does not understand the range of mental disorder that afflict people, from bipolar disorder to depression to dissociative disorders. Are these all equal? Should we test everyone in a population to determine who is depressed?

It is amazing given the brutal cuts to budgets advocated by conservatives that he is willing to expand the numbers of people who are required to make sure these massacres do not happen again. Yet, the simple solution of not allowing guns just does not enter his thinking.

He claims that there is “a criminal class of killers, robbers, rapists and drug gang members who have spread like cancer in every community in this country”. Again, every country has their criminals. Why then, given this fact, are there not more gun murders in those countries? The answer is no guns. It is not complicated. Those countries have criminals and yet they do not have these shootings.

Lapierre goes on to blame violent video games for senseless killing like this one. Again, their logic just does not hold water. Youngsters in other countries play violent video games, and yet the murder rate by gun isn’t even close to that in the United States. This countries gun homicide rate is two orders of magnitude greater than countries like Britain or Spain. The only difference in the cultures remains the numbers of guns on the street. Period.

He continued to blame Hollywood for violent movies, many of which have been around for decades. Then he blamed the media for demonizing gun owners. He argued about the size of the rounds used by the killer, as though the slaughtered children debated the relative destructive power of these rounds, as though they were any less dead because of the size of the round.

What this mans speech showed is that he has no empathy for the children of this massacre, or their families, or tens or hundreds of thousands of families around the country that have lost family members over the last ten years. His only interest is in assuring that more and more people have access to guns, regardless of the consequences.

By his logic, if guns solve the problem of gun crime, considering the three hundred million guns in this country, there should be no gun crime. No, what he wants to do is add more guns, which increases the problem and requires even more weapons to stop. At what point do we say, enough, this is not solving the problem, it is only making it worse?

Lapierre believes that the “only answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. When someone walks into a gun store to buy a weapon, how do you know whether he is a good guy or a bad guy? Does he believe that the good guys wear white hats and the bad guys wear black ones? Does he believe that no bad guys buy guns? Is he living in an alternate universe? In a crowded room when people are blasting away, how do they know who the bad guys are and who the good?

Lapierre appears to believe that life is a Hollywood movie. This is reality. People with access to assault weapons kill people. We need to stop the insanity, stop the violence, stop the guns.

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