I am glad I didn’t hold my breath waiting to see if the National Rifle Association would break from its long-standing tradition and offer a sensible, intelligent solution to the problem of gun violence in our society. In what can only be described as an angry rant at a “press conference” (at which no questions could be asked), the NRA’s Executive Vice-President said the solution to school shootings is to deploy armed security guards in every school. (You can read a transcript of Wayne LaPierre’s comments here.) I think there can be little doubt that this would reduce the incidence of deranged persons shooting multiple children in a school. But it will do nothing to deter those who want to commit mayhem at, say, a movie theatre, house of worship, shopping center, school bus stop, school bus, playground or any of the hundreds of thousands of locations where innocent people congregate.
Although LaPierre did not venture into the “godless society” idiocy of Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, he did have his own cast of villains. Foremost is the media which, according to LaPierre, not only “rewards” those who commit unspeakable crimes by publicizing the crimes, but “provokes others to try to make their mark.” The media also conceals from the rest of us that there are violent video games and “thousands” of music videos glorifying violence, information that is now available to us because of the NRA’s researchers. Then there are the “Gun-Free School Zones,” which LaPierre portrayed as an invitation to the gun-toting unstable among us. Finally, we still do not have an “active national database of the mentally ill.”
In his lone reference to the semi-automatic weapons that seem to be the only common feature of the mass homicides we have witnessed recently, LaPierre sneeringly referred to the media’s characterization of the firearms as “machine guns” as proving, as he put it, “They don’t know what they’re talking about.” He did not explain why a weapon that has as its sole purpose killing as many people as possible in as short a time as possible should be afforded the same level of constitutional protection as a hunting rifle, shot gun or handgun not equipped with a high-capacity magazine.