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.
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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.