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Friday 21 December 2012

Media To Blame – Need More Guns

[Update at end of post]

Today the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) broke their week-long silence following the killing of 20 six and seven year old children (and six adults) in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, calling a press conference. This was addressed by the NRA’s head man Wayne LaPierre. But he would not be taking questions, so it was more a speech than a presser.

LaPierre blamed everything for the killings: video games, mental health, and of course lack of guns. But guns were somehow not to blame: that the shooter’s late mother had six of them in her house – all acquired and owned legally – was for the NRA not a problem. That one of those weapons was an assault rifle capable of discharging up to 900 rounds a minute was not, for Wayne LaPierre, an issue.

That countries in Europe and elsewhere that have enacted strict gun laws have a murder rate a fraction of the USA, and have gun deaths of a yet smaller fraction, is for the NRA not a problem. No, for Wayne LaPierre and his merry men, the problem is that there are not enough guns. Having six guns in one household is not sufficient. And he was very specific about where there should be more guns.

LaPierre wants more guns in schools. He wants every school across the USA – that’s the thick end of 100,000 of them – to have an armed guard on duty. This is because, in his words, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. The NRA cannot or will not consider that the ease with which the bad guy can get tooled up may be the problem.

And, it seems, these armed guards will not be so expensive for the taxpayer because they will be unpaid volunteers. Yeah, right, so that’s someone otherwise unable to find work – or maybe retired – given a free weapon and no money to feed and clothe himself. Does that not sound like a recipe for some of these people to, how shall I put this, step out of line at times of personal necessity?

Moreover, why isn’t the NRA also advocating armed guards for movie theatres? Or armed guards for Safeway or Wal-Mart? With so many more armed people on the streets, it would only be a matter of time before one of them – maybe accidentally – let one of those guns off. And, if they’re going to deter assault rifle owners, they’ll no doubt be issued with their own serious firepower.

But enough: Wayne LaPierre’s suggestion is crap. The next time a school gets shot up, an armed guard will be no use unless he gets the first shot in. If not, he’ll be a dead armed guard. Or perhaps he’ll engage the shooter in a good ol’ fashioned fire-fight and then we can have lots of what is sometimes termed collateral damage. Like more dead children and teachers. This whole idea is absurd.

Like the NRA’s own security – two protesters managed to get in to that presser.

[UPDATE 22 December 1210 hours: even the New York Times, normally a bastion of restraint and understatement, was scathing about Wayne LaPierre, who among his other accomplishments managed to dodge his appointment with the USA's most lethal recent shooting war - Vietnam.

The NYT called his speech a "mendacious, delusional, almost deranged rant", observing that in the world of the NRA, no blame could be attributed to gun dealers - legitimate or otherwise - and nor could it be attributed to those who make available ever more lethal weapons.

In other comment, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell noted that the NRA's proposal for an armed presence in every school would cost $6.7 billion annually, and that Columbine High School did indeed have an armed Sheriff's Deputy on hand, but that he failed to stop the killing (he fired four times at the killers, but missed - and fortunately missed anyone else).

As O'Donnell also pointed out, the NRA's own board includes conservative politicians like Grover Norquist, who would oppose that additional spending on armed guards. The NRA has attracted derision and contempt for its pronouncements yesterday - perhaps this time there really will be a change in the gun laws]


Anonymous said...

Minor quibble: the rifle used at Sandy Hook was not able to fire 900 rounds per minute. The fully automatic military version might be able to do that, but the civilian version was semi-automatic and could probably fire a mere 50 or 60 bullets in a minute.

Anonymous said...

so, with greater accuracy, the gunman might have killed 50-60 children in 60 seconds.

the NRA's response has been laughable. lapierre claims to speak for millions. if true, we should be worried.