Lead the way, NRA – We trust you?
If it wasn’t so ludicrously twisted and cynical, last week’s “press conference” held by the National Rifle Association would have been comical. It took a whole week for the NRA leadership to come up with the new plan to end gun violence aimed at schoolchildren – just put people with guns at EVERY school.
Wayne LaPierre, the organization’s spokesman, claimed that the reason the unconscionable murders continue unabated is that there simply aren’t enough guns in the hands of “good guys,” and that there are big signs on campuses that tell killers that schools are gun-free zones. Where better to shoot people with, you know, no hassles?
He told us the NRA was prepared to train people to stand guard, armed to the teeth, at every one of our nation’s school sites. We seem to have forgotten that the NRA is the leading apologist and lobbying group for the personal weapons industry in America. Putting the NRA in charge of protecting our citizens is a little like letting the lobbying arm of the American Butter Producers Council run the National Institutes of Health – “You know why our heart attack rate is so high? Not enough butter! Sure, people blame butter for the high cholesterol rate but, in the hands of responsibly trained adults, butter can provide a protective coating on the artery walls of every law-abiding American. Used properly, it will slow the raging blood flow that so often bursts the blood vessels of the most vulnerable among us.”
By all means, lead the way NRA. We trust you.
LaPierre derided the media for being so stupid that they didn’t know a clip from a magazine, or a semi-automatic from a machine gun. Gee, he seemed to say, if the media would only turn its attention to finding out the correct words for different types of armaments and educating the public about them, we wouldn’t have any of these pesky school shootings. And you know who could teach the press the right words to say? Why, the NRA! Heck, they’ve been teaching people about guns for years, and they know just the right words to say.
This isn’t really funny anymore, for anyone.
LaPierre plaintively asked, “When did ‘gun’ become a bad word?”
Uh, gee, Wayne, maybe when assault rifles became readily available to just about everyone?
Maybe when the killing capacity of these weapons outran anything law enforcement routinely carries?
Maybe when your organization fought so hard and so successfully against regulation of private gun dealers and gun shows, where 40 percent of guns are purchased? Maybe when you made sure that there were no background checks on ammunition sales?
Maybe when you fought hard and won the battle against renewal of the only assault weapon ban this country ever had?
It’s tempting to agree with the NRA’s logic, but think about this: In America, there are currently 89 guns for every 100 people. Since Bobby Kennedy was killed in 1968, more Americans have died from gunshot (including suicide) than have died in every war in our entire history combined. That includes the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, both Iraq wars, Afghanistan and others too small to mention. Last year alone, more than 30,000 Americans died from gun-related injuries.
Perhaps the most cynical and cruel moment of the so-called press conference (in which the press were not allowed to ask any questions) was when the leadership of the NRA – the organization that has almost single-handedly facilitated the ready availability of assault weapons to the entire population – proposed the National School Shield program.
That would apparently consist of weapons training for school personnel and any interested members of the community who want to be deputized to protect children. There would be participation, of course, from gun-packing NRA members who are, in LaPierre’s words, “uniquely qualified to help.” The goal would be to erect a “cordon of security” around every school. The program would be administered by the NRA, which apparently now has decided to elevate itself from a gun enthusiast’s lobbying group to a quasi-governmental agency.
Finally, LaPierre’s description of those responsible for the mass killings is unwittingly ironic. As he explained it, “The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters, people that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them.”
And they have oh, so many of our nation’s leaders in their pockets.
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Bernie Fleming is a Sonoma Valley resident and former SVUSD teacher who says his work life “became infinitely easier” when he left teaching.