A mere four days ago I wondered how long the vague sense of outrage and consensus about gun culture would last in the US. Now I know: four days. Today, the NRA gave their considered response to this outrage. And I use the word “considered” very advisedly. All of the quotes I use below are taken direct from Mr Lapierre’s transcript.
I latterly compared elements of US gun-owning public to an alcoholic, unable to admit that they had a problem. Using the same analogy, seeing today’s NRA pronouncements felt like watching said alcoholic going on a king-sized bender to end all benders. So, what did Wayne Lapierre, the NRA’s spokesman have to say? Plenty, as it happens, but unfortunately it was almost entirely shite, Even that may be damning the sheer, monumental insanity of it all with faint praise.
It starts off, for the first two paragraphs, almost, almost, rationally:
“The National Rifle Association‘s 4 million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters join the nation in horror, outrage, grief and earnest prayer for the families of Newtown, Connecticut who suffered such incomprehensible loss as a result of this unspeakable crime.Out of respect for those grieving families,and until the facts are known,the NRA has refrained from comment.While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectfully silent.”
But you know there’s a “but” coming, don’t you? And here it is:
“Now, we must speak for the safety of our nation’s children.Because for all the noise and anger directed at us over the past week, no one – nobody – has addressed the most important, pressing and immediate question we face:How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works? The only way to answer that question is to face up to the truth.Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones. They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them.And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”
“Now, I can imagine the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow morning:”More guns,” you’ll claim,”are the NRA’s answer to everything!”Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools.But since when did the word “gun”automatically become a bad word?”
Just check out that sentence again: “Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools” (my emphasis). So here’s the point coming: the problem was not that a lunatic managed to take his own mother’s legally held weapons and murder twenty-six people, twenty of them children. No, the problem is: there are not enough guns in schools. Guns are fine in the hands of trained professionals like soldiers and the police, Lapierre contends, so why is the idea of ramping up security in schools so bad?
Let that settle on you for a second or two. According to the NRA, the solution to the problem is not to stop dangerous lunatics getting hold of weapons: it’s to give more weapons to everyone else, and further arm schools. Contrast this with the British approach. In 1996, 16 children and teachers, of comparable ages to the children in Newtown, were killed at Dunblane, in Scotland. The subsequent Cullen Report the enactment of both Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 and Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 effectively prohibited private handgun use in this country. There have been precisely no mass school shootings since. You might think these things might be somehow connected. I couldn’t possibly comment.
But, no matter. Now Lapierre’s into his stride, he lumbers on:
“Every school in America needs to immediately identify, dedicate and deploy the resources necessary to put these security forces in place right now.And the National Rifle Association, as America’s pre-eminent trainer of law enforcement and security personnel for the past 50 years, is ready, willing and uniquely qualified to help.Our training programs are the most advanced in the world. That expertise must be brought to bear to protect our schools and our children now.We did it for the nation’s defense industries and military installations during World War II, and we’ll do it for our schools today.”
“For the sake of the safety of every child in America, I call on every parent, every teacher, every school administrator and every law enforcement officer in this country to join us in the National School Shield Program and protect our children with the only line of positive defense that’s tested and proven to work”