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Wayne LaPierre and the NRA – pissing on the graves of the Sandy Hook dead

“The association presents itself as a grass-roots organization, but it has become increasingly clear in recent years that it represents gun makers. Its chief aim has been to help their businesses by increasing the spread of firearms throughout American society” – the New York Times.

Exactly a week – to the minute – after 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and mowed down 26 people, 20 of them kids, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre stood in a crowded press-room and delivered the NRA’s “meaningful contributions” to the gun control debate that has bloomed in the last week.

Back to NRA’s contribution in a bit.

While LaPierre spoke in Washington, in Geeseytown, Pennsylvania, four people, including the alleged gunman, were shot dead and three Pennsylvania state troopers injured after a series of related shooting incidents.

Last evening Rachel Maddow said this on her MSNBC show about what we might expect from LaPierre and the NRA today.

One word of caution, I would say. If what you hear at this news conference is an NRA leader lamenting violent video games or calling for us to study mental health issues in this country, be aware that while those may be things that we should do as a country they are also ways for the NRA to avoid just talking about guns.

If the NRA is prepared to make meaningful contributions to make sure elementary school children are not massacred again in our country in their classrooms, they will need to talk about guns. That’s where they are powerful. They will need to talk about the work they do to keep gun laws the way they are.

If they do not talk about guns tomorrow, then this news conference tomorrow is a sideshow.

What had been flagged as a news conference from LaPierre was anything but.

LaPierre stood, delivered his prepared script and left, allowing no questions from the serried ranks of media wanting to discuss the NRA’s “contribution.” Nor any response to the two protesters who were quickly ushered away by security.

I listened to LaPierre as I was driving down from a dawn trip to Dante’s Peak in Death Valley National Park and at several points had to pull over to listen as the broadcast from KBOI 670AM faded in and out as I came down the winding road. At one point I was so shocked by what I heard I nearly drove off the road.

Rachel Maddow was pretty much on the money when she cautioned that the NRA would shift blame to everyone and thing other than itself and those things it holds dear.

LaPierre started his bizarre performance with a self-serving comment about the NRA’s lack of response over the past week and an unseemly swipe at anyone who had dared to speak agsinst the NRA’s interests while it had been silent.

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.

Next it was onto the real evil in the gun control debate. The mentally ill – “every insane killer“, the “unknown number of genuine monsters” – that populate our society:

… people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment?

These people who are:

…waiting in the wings for their moment of fame, from a national media machine that rewards them with the wall-to-wall attention.

There was more to come on the media. LaPierre asked how many more atrocities would happen. Were there:

… a dozen more killers? A hundred? More? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill? And the fact is, that wouldn’t even begin to address the much larger and more lethal criminal class: Killers, robbers, rapists and drug gang members who have spread like cancer in every community in this country.

The closest LaPierre got to credible commentary was his analysis of the prevalence of violent films, videos and games:

There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse.

In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes.

But even that was flawed by factual errors and some seriously flawed logic.

Twenty-year old video games don’t kill people, guns do.

LaPierre’s incoherent blame game continued:

Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws and fill the national debate with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away.

And then came this statement that pissed on the grave of each of the twenty-six killed at Sandy Hook a week ago and proves just how far out of touch with reality LaPierre and the NRA really are:

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

This is when I nearly ended up in a ditch.

And what was LaPierre’s answer to the crisis that has gripped this country for the last week?

More guns. In schools.

LaPierre wants – and this is an old NRA pitch that has been comprehensively debunked – an armed police officer in each of the 130,000 or so American schools.

I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school, and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January.

On any fair analysis it would be safe to assume the NRA is best placed to represent the interests of American gun owners. Or so you would think.

But there is a cogent argument that the NRA is only really interested in the interests of the gun manufacturers and sellers.

For mine yesterday’s editorial in the New York Times nailed it.

The association presents itself as a grass-roots organization, but it has become increasingly clear in recent years that it represents gun makers. Its chief aim has been to help their businesses by increasing the spread of firearms throughout American society.

The industry has, in turn, been a big supporter of the N.R.A. It has contributed between $14.7 million and $38.9 million to an N.R.A.-corporate-giving campaign since 2005 … Businesses and special-interest groups often cloak their profit motives in the garb of constitutional rights — think Big Tobacco …The Supreme Court has made clear that the right to bear arms is not absolute and is subject to regulations and controls. Yet the N.R.A. clings to its groundless arguments that tough regulations violate the Second Amendment.

Many of those arguments serve no purpose other than to increase the sales of guns and bullets.

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  • 1
    Fnarf
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    It’s a police state he wants. Not figuratively, literally. It costs approximately $100,000 in pay, benefits and administration for each police officer, which amounts to a at least a $13 billion dollar program he’s advocating for, and probably double that because many large schools would need multiple officers. So much for “small government conservatives”. Not to mention the difficulty of hiring that many, in a time when existing police departments are having trouble attracting quality officers — my police department here in Seattle is advertising on billboards. How many of the 130,000, or 200,000, are going to turn out to be molesters, or tin-pot dictators looking to teach those kids a lesson, or just plain incompetents who lose their guns or have them stolen or fire them in the wrong direction in a school (how many “right directions” ARE there in a school?)

    The NRA is pure, unadulterated evil. But they have our government wrapped up. And their thousands of minions are spreading out through the forums as I type this, congratulating this plan. How many more will die?

  • 2
    Bob Gosford
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Fnarf and I think that the New York Times agrees with you:

    Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, would have been better advised to remain wherever he had been hiding after the Newtown, Conn., massacre, rather than appear at a news conference on Friday. No one seriously believed the N.R.A. when it said it would contribute something “meaningful” to the discussion about gun violence. The organization’s very existence is predicated on the nation being torn in half over guns. Still, we were stunned by Mr. LaPierre’s mendacious, delusional, almost deranged rant.

    Mr. LaPierre looked wild-eyed at times as he said the killing was the fault of the media, songwriters and singers and the people who listen to them, movie and TV scriptwriters and the people who watch their work, advocates of gun control, video game makers and video game players.

  • 3
    Trevor Kerr
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Bob, it was an entirely rational conclusion by LaPierre.
    (1) NRA initial ambit was their usual “get guns away from pyschopaths”, but a few moments reflection shows this can’t be done.
    (2) As lobbyist for shooters & gun-makers, NRA’s only logical step is what they say today, ie., that’s what they get paid to do.
    It makes sense, though I reckon they’ve jumped the gun.
    I mean it may have been better to stick with (1) and let others say why it wouldn’t work, the main one being that US society produces a fair range of people who could be put on a “watch” list. Then, of course, that would be “unconstitutional”. So, what next? Oh, it’s the responsibility of families to keep watch on their home-grown nutters? How about identifying the social factors, like violent males, that lay the groundwork for nascent shooters?
    None of that would do the NRA any harm at all, and after a week or two of national navel-gazing, Joe Biden would be left with a seriously wounded duck to pluck in his kitchen.
    This early bid by NRA may have done Obama a favour, though. Any school, now, can pay to put an armed guard in a corridor. Most will not, because the local sheriff & police chief will have something to say about that. Federal law, even if workable, to mandate for armed guards would have an enormous dollar cost.
    As it is now, Obama should be able to get with the NRA to take some weapons & magazines off the shelf, for an early win.

  • 4
    Bob Gosford
    Posted December 23, 2012 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    Trevor,
    Thanks for your thoughts. What has me gobsmacked is the complete lack of compassion shown by LaPierre – no mention of the lives lost and ruined just a week before. And the idea of having armed officers in every school is a old NRA theme that, as I’ve said, has been discredited.And i think you are wrong in thinking that the NRA have offered Obama an easy road – they are totally opposed to any further control.
    That said I think they have done the gun control lobbyists a big favour by outing themselves as utter nut-jobs …
    Thanks and more thoughts welcome.
    Bob

  • 5
    Trevor Kerr
    Posted December 23, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Hey, Bob! I’d rather be talking about birds, but let’s give this one another kick.
    There are two large-ish aspects of gun control that are almost unexplored and/or unexposed.
    (1) Why do (some) males like guns? Is it for a similar reason that most hot-rodders are male? I had a go at that in a letter.
    (2) How will more effective use of new media techniques shift opinions about gun ownership? We do know that the gaming industry features guns, and pushes against the technical boundaries to make its’ products more saleable. Suppose the NYT, similar to its excellent narrative on an avalanche, publishes a documentary on what a school shooting looks like, including the injuries.
    I don’t see that lack of compassion is a failure on LaPierre’s part. For one, compassion is elastic. What amount of compassion should be spent on the victims of a mass murder in Syria, or on the next household obliterated by a US drone in Pakistan or Afghanistan? Of more importance to the NRA is knowledge about gun ownership amongst the households directly affected by the Newtown murders. Is the NRA prepared to trot out one of the grieving parents to support their case? Have any of the gun-owning parents turned in their weapons?
    I don’t mind LaPierre being up-front about presenting the case for gun-makers. At least he’s more transparent than the employees of the media who talk & write about their love for whiskey, like it’s not as though the alcohol industry contributes to media profits with their advertisements.
    Trevor

  • 6
    Rod Zegar
    Posted December 23, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    I don’t see how you justify gun ownership. As long as everyone with guns is just defending themselves, it can theoretically work. But it doesn’t work in a society where mental illness is poorly identified and violence is not well policed. Then it’s just adding fuel to the fire. As for the NRA, their position doesn’t make sense at all. See this satirical piece on the NRA’s illlogic: http://sorrysods.com/an-apology-from-the-nra-on-recent-mass-shootings.

  • 7
    Saugoof
    Posted December 24, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    My first thought, when I read about Wayne LaPierre’s press conference was that this would have to be an article by The Onion.

    Truth be told, I’m happy he came out, well, guns blazing, like that. I think what this has done is show America what a bunch of lunatics are running the NRA. While the NRA can probably, in the short term, point to having a few extra nutcases sign up for membership, the country’s mood about gun control has been on somewhat of a tipping point and I think LaPierre has just pushed it over towards more gun control.

  • 8
    Peter Wills
    Posted December 24, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    @Trevor I would much rather you talk about birds as you obviously have no clue as to the implications and ramifications of remarks made by LaPierre in the context of preventing further mass shooting tragedies and the loss of innocent young lives.

  • 9
    notmensa
    Posted December 24, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Other transcripts and quotes have him saying the NRA remained “respectably” – not “respectfully” – silent. It was all about them, not the victims.

  • 10
    Bob Gosford
    Posted December 24, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Emma – i took my quotes from the Scribd doc and didn’t “check against delivery” so you may be right. I also note that in his live spray he said that “27″ children had died, which is of course wrong.

  • 11
    Jeff Willson
    Posted December 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    American here, Im saddened by the fact many of you choose to make conclusions from such propaganda. The proposed solution by the anti-gun lobby is an assault weapons ban. Which would really do a lot of good, as Connecticut had a more restrictive assault weapons ban already.
    While I don’t support tax payer money going to guards in every school, schools should no longer be gun free zones. They are magnets for these cowards. Gun free zones in the US should be renamed “free fire zones”.

  • 12
    مكينSultanofAustralisTerraNullius
    Posted December 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    what a strange comparison. people in war zones Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan where you can’t have control over but only resignation, to your own people living in the land of the free where you can change the situation and it needs more than just security guards and police in school but also needs gun-law reform and a cultural change in the American psyche away from resolving everything with guns. it’s not just mentally ill people they need to worry about, many mass shootings occur by people go mad with aggression and use gun to resolve their griefs.

  • 13
    no_party_preferred
    Posted December 25, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Does anyone actually think in a country where there are 8 firearms for every 10 people that a ban on “assault rifles” (hard to define) is going to be;

    Possible
    Feasible
    Affordable
    Practical
    Effective

    In Australia there are an estimated 25000 illegal fire arms and only about 2000 of them are attributable to thefts from gun shops gun clubs or private owners. And that is in a country with quite strong and robust gun laws. In the US in many states there is no registry, no licensing, no nothing. And they cant afford a buy back.

    I think that ship has sailed.

  • 14
    Bob Gosford
    Posted December 25, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I’m surprised at the “estimated 25k” illegal firearms in Australia – thought that figure would be much higher. This very interesting report from Australia ABC’s Background Briefing broadcast in February 2012 has a lot of good background about gun ownership in Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/guns-are-back/3725866#transcript

  • 15
    Andybob
    Posted December 25, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    You can’t reason someone out of a position they haven’t reasoned themselves into. People seek gun ownership for visceral reasons. Feelings of protection, power, virility and social image are all important factors. If there was a constitutionally guaranteed right to rat poison, it probably wouldn’t result in much more rat poison in the community. We buy rat poison to do a job, guns we (or rather, Americans) buy for other reasons.

    Some of those reasons are … oddd. It is genuinely believed by many in the USA that owning a gun is of some assistance in preventing governmental tyranny. Which sort of begs the question, when exactly can you shoot a representative of the government and thereby prevent tyranny. It seems a bit late to leave it until 3:00 am in the morning when they’re knocking on your door. This kind of worry, that the government is taking over the country, led to Tim McVeigh and Waco etc. It keeps people distracted from improving and monitoring the checks and balances in the political system that actually can do something to prevent tyranny.

    If America is to be cured of its longstanding fetish for guns, it has to start looking at how it socializes young males and the role guns play in that. The ‘lone gun’ cowboy, a man of few words, writing wrongs with his fists, horse and guns, has a lot to answer for.

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