The problem, according to the NRA: Not enough “good” guns in schools

A few days ago, after almost a full week of silence, the National Rifle Association (NRA) issued a press release addressing the December 14 mass murder in Connecticut, in which 26 lives were lost, including those of 20 six- and seven-year-olds. In their press release, the NRA promised that they were, “prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.” Well, at a press conference held in Washington, DC this afternoon, we got a pretty good sense as to just how “meaningful” those contributions would be.

Standing behind a podium in the Willard Hotel ballroom, before hundreds of reporters who were instructed not to ask questions, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre aggressively avoided even the slightest hint of responsibility, insisting that this horrible event happened not because too many military-style weapons are in circulation, but because we have “a national media machine that rewards (deranged and evil people) with the wall-to-wall attention and sense of identity that they crave” coupled with “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people… through vicious, violent video games.” Here’s a clip from LaPierre’s speech:

“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 — every minute of every day of every month of every year.

A child growing up in America witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18.

And throughout it all, too many in our national media … their corporate owners … and their stockholders … act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. 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”…

[LaPierre’s full statement can be found here.]

But LaPierre, I assume because he loves the 1st Amendment as much as he does the 2nd, doesn’t call for limits to be imposed on the entertainment industry. No, he takes the opportunity to sell more guns, saying, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” We should, he seems to argue, accept that there’s evil in the word, which is being coaxed along by large corporations, and be prepared to meet it with overwhelming force. Then, with the stage having been set, LaPierre offered his “meaningful contribution” to the national conversation, calling upon Congress to act immediately, “to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school.” And, he said, the NRA would be there to help however necessary.

The NRA, said LaPierre, “as America’s preeminent trainer of law enforcement and security personnel for the past 50 years,” would be more than happy to lead this campaign, which they’ve christened the National School Shield Emergency Response Program. The NRA would, according to LaPierre, handle everything from the training of these several hundred thousand armed guards, and putting school access controls in place, to drafting designs for America’s next-generation schools, which, one can assume, will be virtually impenetrable… One would assume that the NRA would be compensated for playing such a critical role in safeguarding our nation’s children, but LaPierre didn’t mention that.

[note: One other thing that LaPierre didn’t mention — there was an armed guard on the grounds of Columbine High School on the day that school was attacked in 1999. The guard, Neil Gardner, exchanged fire with one of the gunmen from 60 yards away, but failed to keep him from entering the school, where he and an accomplice murdered 13.]

And, with that, LaPierre introduced former Congressman Asa Hutchinson, the man who, we were told, would be leading the effort for the NRA, as the National Director of the National School Shield Program. Neither man answered reporters’ questions, but Hutchinson, in his prepared comments, added a little more detail to the plan, as it had been put forward by LaPierre. Most interestingly, Hutchinson said that, for the system to work, you wouldn’t even need to hire police officers, as volunteers could do the trick. (Hiring police officers could be cost-prohibitive, as there are approximately 98,817 public schools in the United States, and God knows how many busses, each of which, one would imagine, would need to be protected as well.) Here’s a quote from Hutchinson:

“…If a school decides, for whatever reason, that it doesn’t want, or need, armed security personnel, that of course is a decision to be made by the parents of the local school board at the local level. The second point I’d like to make is that this will be a program that does not depend upon massive funding from local authorities or the federal government. Instead it will make use of local volunteers serving in their own communities… Whether they’re retired police, retired military, or rescue personnel, I think there are people in every community in this country who would be happy to serve, if only someone would ask them, and gave them the training and certifications to do so…”

And, at this point in the conversation, I think it’s worth reminding folks just how well the whole “volunteer armed security” thing worked out for Trayvon Martin this summer. Do we really want trigger-happy volunteer tough guys walking around our kids’ schools with loaded weapons, questioning our children about their comings and goings?

I can see the appeal of a relatively quick fix that gives parents the temporary illusion of safety where their children are concerned, but I can’t help but think that, if we follow this course of action, we might just be creating a more serious problem. The analogy that comes to mind is that of a community which, in hopes of eliminating one invasive species, introduces a more lethal invasive species into their local ecosystem. The hope is that the second species will be more easily dealt with than the first, but it’s almost guaranteed not to be the case.

[Video of Hutchinson’s complete address can be found here.]

The response to this “defensive” and “paranoid” vision put forward by the NRA, from what I’ve seen online, has been universally unenthusiastic. Randi Weingarten, head of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers, for instance, called the proposal “irresponsible and dangerous.” And Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post called it, “absurd, unbelievable, tragic, obscene… evil.” I could go on, but I suspect that most of you already know that this idea is terrible, and will join me, over the coming months, in fighting it. The last thing this country needs are more guns in schools. Even if we’re just talking about one armed person in each school, that’s almost 100,000 guns, and what are the odds that bad things would happen, especially if we’re talking about unpaid volunteers being the ones with their fingers on the triggers? How long will it be before we start hearing stories about fathers of Muslim students being shot for “looking like terrorists,” or guns being accidentally discharged? I’d argue that it’s not worth the risk, especially when there are other means available to us. As we discussed yesterday, the evidence indicates that fewer guns in circulation means fewer gun deaths. Folks on the right argue that insane people will still find a way to do harm, and that’s true, but it will almost certainly be decidedly less lethal. Case in point – at roughly the same time that this gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary, taking the lives of 20 children, a similarly deranged man entered a school in China, wielding a knife. He slashed 22 children. Happily, though, in that case, they all survived.

[note: The image above is mine. I apologize in advance if any of my gun-owning friends get their feeling hurt.]

update: The best response to LaPierre that I’ve seen thus far.

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  1. Tim Fema
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    27 lives lost, not 26. Why does Nancy Lanza’s death not count?

  2. alan2102
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 1:48 am | Permalink
    We’ve had Cool Obama, and No Drama Obama. Now we have Weeping Obama. Does Weeping Obama “meet privately” with the families of those he has ordered murdered in Pakistan, or Somalia, or Yemen? Does he even acknowledge those murders — murders that he himself ordered? Does the “nation reel” in response to these regular, systematic murders of innocent human beings — many of them children? Does the “nation reel” in response to the Obama administration’s repeated public announcements of its Kill List and its Murder Program, a program which intentionally, repeatedly murders innocent people? Does America react with horror to the fact that Obama and his administration claim the “right” to murder anyone they want, anywhere in the world, for any reason they choose or invent out of nothing?
    it is more than extraordinary for Americans to claim they embody compassion and kindness to any extent at all, when roughly 120 million Americans recently voted for two candidates who support a program devoted to the unrestricted murder of completely innocent human beings. Moreover, one of those candidates is the man who has ordered the murder of such innocents on multiple occasions and seeks to institutionalize his Murder Program as a foundational element of national policy going forward. Such a country can be described as murderous, vicious, and evil with full justification; kind, just, and compassionate are not words that occur to a sane, healthy person when confronted with brazen, publicly declared evil on this scale.
    I have to confess that whenever I mention this issue, I am almost overwhelmed by the deeply felt need to begin screaming. I ask you to consider the nature and meaning of the Murder Program once again: the most powerful officials in our national government routinely and systematically order the murder of human beings whom they must know, if they are minimally honest for even a second or two, to be entirely innocent. These same officials have told us this is what they are doing on multiple occasions; their proclamations have been detailed in the nation’s leading newspapers. For almost all Americans, it is as if nothing at all has been said. I feel I have to scream because it seems there is no other way even to get people’s attention on this subject. The U.S. government commits profoundly evil acts every day — and almost no one notices. For several decades of my adult life, I have spent enormous amounts of time reading, studying and thinking about the varieties of methods people use to avoid and deny what should be shockingly obvious truths. Much of my writing here over the last ten years has been devoted to these issues. But I admit that avoidance and denial on this national scale, and particularly with regard to the plain meaning of the Murder Program, leave me feeling close to completely helpless and impotent. I am not sure there is any way to break through a wall of resistance that has been built and is maintained with such willful, deliberate intention. And I greatly fear that only spreading catastrophe will finally cause more people to begin to question the fabricated version of the truth they so fervently believe. If you reflect on this terrible predicament a bit longer, a further especially horrifying aspect of our situation should become clearer: this national exercise in virtually complete denial of what should be obvious — and what should be resisted with all the strength of which we are capable — all but guarantees that catastrophe in multiple forms will soon be visited upon us, perhaps much sooner than I myself had once thought.

  3. Topher
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Schools don’t have money for a police officer at every school. Skyline used to have one, but due to budget cuts cannot afford one. In a time when the state keeps cutting funding for schools, it doesn’t financially pay off to pay the salary of a police officer for something that might or might not happen.

  4. DanL
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    If guns are taxed to pay for a police officer in every school that would be something I could consider.

  5. anon
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Once in awhile, the truth sneaks through despite the efforts of Chuck, Chris, Chris, David, and Dan, Luke and Joe to obfuscate. Michael Moore told Piers Morgan that the nation is armed because whites with guns want to use them on black people. Morgan interrupted him. Morgan must have read the memo from CNN executives, one of whom told Rick Sanchez that “Race sells.” These armed whites have a fantasy that was portrayed in Robert Crumb’s brilliant though offensive cartoon “When The Niggers Take Over America.”

    There’s another source that reveals what is on the minds of those who have rushed to the gun stores when President Obama was elected and when he was re-elected. Do you think that these millions armed themselves because volunteers were requested to diminish the over population of deer? Maybe I’m not surprised that the media haven’t paid more attention to The Turner Diaries, the novel manifesto that inspired Timothy McVeigh who blew up the Alfred E. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19,1995; a shoot-out between the FBI and a Neo-Nazi that took place outside of Pullman, Washington. Buford O. Furrow, who shot kids at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in 1999; Richard Poplawski, who murdered three Pittsburgh policemen in 2009. None of these killers suffered from Asperger’s. In William Pierce’s book, the Jews get “The Cohen Act” passed. They take away the guns and the “Negro police” enforce the act. As a result blacks assault whites. They even commit cannibalism. The big obsession of the book is race-mixing.

    Senator Diane Feinstein has promised to introduce legislation that will ban assault weapons and if it passes, black Attorney General Eric Holder will enforce the legislation. It is because of the paranoid fantasy, this collective psychosis, one that the media are scared to mention, that the nation will never get rid of assault weapons and more Newtowns will happen, and even deadlier ones than the Newtown massacre.

    —Ishmael Reed

  6. alan2102
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    “Michael Moore told Piers Morgan that the nation is armed because whites with guns want to use them on black people”

    …. sounds reasonable. Maybe whites are pissed off because there is a brown guy in the WH doing the mass murder of other brown people for them, and they really want to be doing it themselves. Who knows?


    “white America lacks the capacity for self-examination. It cannot grasp the simple truth, that a culture that celebrates the annihilation of whole peoples, casually and without guilt or introspection, is devoid of human values at its very core. In the end, it turns against itself. That is the simple lesson of Newtown, and Columbine, and Aurora.”


    The Ultimate Logic of a Society Built on Mass Murder

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

    As a native-born American, I grew up watching cowboy and Indian shoot-em-ups in which the highlight of the movie was when the white guys in the circled wagon train shot the Indians off their horses until all the red men were dead, and very silent. Indians didn’t do a lot of screaming in pain when they were shot; they just expired. Same thing with buck-toothed Japanese, line after line of them, charging into U.S. machine guns, falling instantly silent and dead. It was somehow quite clean, almost antiseptic, these cinematic rituals of death, all staged for the broadest popular consumption to demonstrate the inevitability – and cosmic justice – of ultimate white victory over the darker races.

    This was mother’s milk to the white American nation – which is why Richard Pryor and kids like me rooted for the Indians. Mass murder is at the core of the American national religion, which is a celebration of a genocidal march across a continent filled with other, doomed human beings. America’s contribution to European culture was to invite “all the nations of Europe” to come to these shores and become fellow “white” citizens, whose status was defined by the enforced inferiority of Blacks and the remnants of the Indians. Ritual burnings of Blacks were organized as great public festivals, attended by thousands, staged in order to affirm whites’ collective right to commit murder. This monopoly on violence was what made them white Americans.

    U.S. foreign policy reflects the nation’s origins and ghastly evolution into a globe-strutting mob, that empowers itself to kill at will. A million dead Filipinos at the turn of the 20th century; aerial bombing of Haitian villages less than a generation later; the totally unwarranted nuclear annihilation of two cities at the very end of World War Two; two million dead Koreans shortly thereafter; three million dead Vietnamese in the next decade,; and, since 1996, six million Congolese – all, and many, many more, slaughtered in the name of U.S. civilizational superiority – the ghastly opiate of the white American masses.

    What kind of human beings does such a culture produce? To paraphrase the Bible, “By their massacres, ye shall know them.” The modern mass American murder is overwhelmingly a white phenomenon. Yet few whites ask the question, “What’s wrong with white America?” It is seems that white America lacks the capacity for self-examination. It cannot grasp the simple truth, that a culture that celebrates the annihilation of whole peoples, casually and without guilt or introspection, is devoid of human values at its very core. In the end, it turns against itself. That is the simple lesson of Newtown, and Columbine, and Aurora. The same cultural deformity creates a huge market for games like the very popular Assassin’s Creed, whose latest version integrates individual and group murder with events of the American Revolutionary War. American kids can simulate mass murder all day long, and feel patriotic and smart while doing it. Assassin’s Creed features an inter-racial cast of killers – possibly in deference to the brown guy in the White House who owns the ultimate Kill List. It’s the modern equivalent of the cowboys and Indians movies of my youth. The same sickness.

  7. alan2102
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    The guns and race story has another and surprising side:
    The Racist Roots of Gun Control
    Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy, Winter 1995, at 17)
    Clayton E. Cramer
    Gun Control and Racism
    George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal, Summer, 1991 p.67
    Stefan B. Tahmassebi
    Gun Control: White Man’s Law
    by William R. Tonso
    Gun Control’s Racist Origins
    by Nicholas J. Johnson
    Is Gun Control Racist?
    Author Adam Winkler uncovers the surprising racist roots of gun control in America-and how the NRA and other groups flipped entirely.
    bad link:
    Gun Control And Economic Discrimination: The Melting Point Case In Point [does not pertain to race *per se* as much as economic underprivelege]
    The Second Amendment: Toward an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration
    Georgetown Law Journal, 1991, 309-361
    Robert J. Cottrol and Raymond T. Diamond

  8. Edward
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Tim, I think he said that 26 were killed “at the school”. The gunman’s mother was killed earlier that morning, at her home.

  9. Meta
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    From the Eugene Robinson op-ed linked to in the post:

    …Where to begin? Let’s assume, for the moment, that we decide to pay the multi-billion-dollar cost of placing one gun-toting officer in every school. What would the officer’s orders be? Shoot anyone who looks suspicious? If not, the officer would wait until an assailant — someone like Adam Lanza — displayed a gun or started firing. What sort of arsenal, and itchy trigger finger, would the officer need to be certain of shooting the assailant before the assailant shot the officer? How many twitchy, furtive, suspicious-looking UPS deliverymen would be tragically cut down in error?

    So I guess there could be multiple officers in each school. For a glimpse of that dystopian future, recall the shooting a few months ago outside the Empire State Building. A gunman began firing, uniformed NYPD officers responded, they tried to take the gunman down — and nine innocent bystanders were wounded, all by police gunfire. Now imagine that sort of thing happening in a school, and think how many children would be killed by errant shots from police officers’ weapons.

    Now consider the profile of these mass shooters, such as Adam Lanza. These disturbed young men are meticulous in planning their unspeakable crimes. Does it occur to the NRA that if a would-be shooter knew there would be armed police officers at the school (or movie theater, or grocery store), he might be sure to wear body armor? So will the school cops wear body armor, too? Do we require students to wear uniforms of Kevlar too?

    The NRA will never, ever admit that the problem is too many guns, not too few. As Post columnist Fareed Zakaria pointed out so eloquently in his recent column, there is mental illness in all industrialized countries. There are violent video games in all those countries, too. But we’re the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud…

  10. Mr. X
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    From a friend on Facebook.

    “NRA wants to arm teachers? In my senior year, one of my high school’s teachers committed multiple homicide and suicide with a gun.”

  11. Mr. X
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Best image of the day belongs to Code Pink.

  12. Tammy
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Medea loves to be in front of cameras.

  13. Posted December 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen so many false stories posted on Facebook and shared by my gun advocate friends. There are stories about volunteers getting court-marshaled for vowing to protect schools and accounts of one lone gunman saving his family from a home invader. But they are usually bullshit. This whole pretend honor and glory in the face of the enemy mindset only works in war– it only makes things creepy and weird when it’s unnecessary. All it does is keep people angry and scared and on edge. You don’t have to be whipped into a frenzy all the time to be safe and smart.

    I was given a gun as a gift and it has spent basically the entirety of it’s life in a locked box. I just can’t rationalize a reason to have it. I would have to go well out of my way to imagine a scenario where I had to use it to save one person while harming another. Even still, it’s so difficult to get a permit to even own one (let alone carry it) in New York city, that it would never be worth it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, since gun laws in NYC got really strict, murders have gone down. Usually when I do read about a shooting in the city that ends fatally, it’s the police doing the shooting (because they’re the ones with the guns).

    Too many people that I know who like guns talk about them the same way guys talk about sports cars. It’s pretend talk and sort of irresponsible. I would estimate that probably less than a fourth of the people I know who own or carry guns are responsible enough to do so safely. The rest are just people who like the idea of it. Guns are cool because they are powerful, I get that. I’ve used them, it’s awesome. They can serve a purpose in the home, I get that too. We want to feel safe and not like someone is going to come in to our homes and rob us blind or hurt us. However, pretending like people are going to be more responsible with guns than they are with any other product is stupid. I was once almost shot by a gun owner who had a few drinks and wanted to show off. We’re a lot dumber than we give ourselves credit for and have to all agree that a better solution should probably be reached.

  14. Knox
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    There are a lot of want-to-be heroes in America, men who think that, if only given the opportunity, they could really show the world what they’re made of. After 9/11, I remember reading a quote by Mark Wahlberg saying that, if he were on the plane that was crashed into the field, it would have ended differently. It’s magical thinking, and it’s offensive to the men and women who died on that flight. The truth is, these want-to-be heroes rarely make a difference. More often than not, the create problems for the rest of us. Look at George Zimmerman who shot a young unarmed black man to death after telling the police that he was tired of “these people” getting away. That never should have escalated. Now imagine 100,000 George Zimmerman’s in our public schools, where, every day they’re confronted by ambiguous circumstances and asked to make life and death decisions in a split second.

  15. anonymous
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Lawrence O’Donnell: NRA Chief Wayne LaPierre is a “dsperate, cornered rat,” and a “lobbyist for mass murderers’


  16. Mr. X
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Another great graphic.

  17. Mr. X
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Having a Bushmaster makes you a man!

  18. John Galt
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    If you take away our guns, you’ll leave us virtually defenseless. We’ll be forced to protect ourselves with pocket sand and poop-filled socks.

  19. Mr. Y
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Here’s the real deal. LaPierre wasn’t serious. He could give a fuck about kids. This was about putting the President on the offensive, and shifting the debate away from gun control and toward school safety.

  20. Anonymous Mike
    Posted December 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Using the deaths of these kids to push the agenda of the gun industry is absolutely evil. Someone is definitely going to hell.

  21. Meta
    Posted December 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m awaiting the NRA’s response to this one. Shall we send snipers out with every fire truck?

    Four firefighters were shot — two fatally — after apparently being lured to an early morning blaze on Monday in Webster, N.Y., a lakefront town about 12 miles northeast of Rochester, officials said.

    House fires burned in Webster, N.Y., near Rochester Monday morning after two firefighters were shot dead when they responded to a fire. Two more firefighters were wounded.

    The suspected assailant also died at the scene, the town’s police chief, Gerald L. Pickering said, though it was unclear if he was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot or by the authorities.

    “It does appear that it was a trap that was set,” Chief Pickering said of the blaze that drew the firefighters. “Causative reasons, we don’t have at this time.”

    Read more:

  22. Michael Woodyard
    Posted December 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    How about the fact that, even as La Pierre was petulantly decrying the makers of violent video games as being the problem — not guns — he conveniently forgot to mention that gun makers (members of the NRA all…) are in bed with the video game makers, with bought-and-paid-for product placement by gun makers in the video games, and direct marketing through links from the the video game sites to the gun makers. What a duplicitous piece of shit.

  23. Michael Moore
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    After watching the deranged, delusional National Rifle Association press conference on Friday, it was clear that the Mayan prophecy had come true. Except the only world that was ending was the NRA’s. Their bullying power to set gun policy in this country is over. The nation is repulsed by the massacre in Connecticut, and the signs are everywhere: a basketball coach at a post-game press conference; the Republican Joe Scarborough; a pawn shop owner in Florida; a gun buy-back program in New Jersey; a singing contest show on TV, and the conservative gun-owning judge who sentenced Jared Loughner.

    So here’s my little bit of holiday cheer for you:

    These gun massacres aren’t going to end any time soon.

    I’m sorry to say this. But deep down we both know it’s true. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep pushing forward – after all, the momentum is on our side. I know all of us – including me – would love to see the president and Congress enact stronger gun laws. We need a ban on automatic AND semiautomatic weapons and magazine clips that hold more than 7 bullets. We need better background checks and more mental health services. We need to regulate the ammo, too.

    But, friends, I would like to propose that while all of the above will certainly reduce gun deaths (ask Mayor Bloomberg – it is virtually impossible to buy a handgun in New York City and the result is the number of murders per year has gone from 2,200 to under 400), it won’t really bring about an end to these mass slayings and it will not address the core problem we have. Connecticut had one of the strongest gun laws in the country. That did nothing to prevent the murders of 20 small children on December 14th.

    In fact, let’s be clear about Newtown: the killer had no criminal record so he would never have shown up on a background check. All of the guns he used were legally purchased. None fit the legal description of an “assault” weapon. The killer seemed to have mental problems and his mother had him seek help, but that was worthless. As for security measures, the Sandy Hook school was locked down and buttoned up BEFORE the killer showed up that morning. Drills had been held for just such an incident. A lot of good that did.

    And here’s the dirty little fact none of us liberals want to discuss: The killer only ceased his slaughter when he saw that cops were swarming onto the school grounds – i.e, the men with the guns. When he saw the guns a-coming, he stopped the bloodshed and killed himself. Guns on police officers prevented another 20 or 40 or 100 deaths from happening. Guns sometimes work. (Then again, there was an armed deputy sheriff at Columbine High School the day of that massacre and he couldn’t/didn’t stop it.)

    I am sorry to offer this reality check on our much-needed march toward a bunch of well-intended, necessary – but ultimately, mostly cosmetic – changes to our gun laws. The sad facts are these: Other countries that have guns (like Canada, which has 7 million guns – mostly hunting guns – in their 12 million households) have a low murder rate. Kids in Japan watch the same violent movies and kids in Australia play the same violent video games (Grand Theft Auto was created by a British company; the UK had 58 gun murders last year in a nation of 63 million people). They simply don’t kill each other at the rate that we do. Why is that? THAT is the question we should be exploring while we are banning and restricting guns: Who are we?

    I’d like to try to answer that question.

    We are a country whose leaders officially sanction and carry out acts of violence as a means to often an immoral end. We invade countries who didn’t attack us. We’re currently using drones in a half-dozen countries, often killing civilians.

    This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to us as we are a nation founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves. We slaughtered 600,000 of each other in a civil war. We “tamed the Wild West with a six-shooter,” and we rape and beat and kill our women without mercy and at a staggering rate: every three hours a women is murdered in the USA (half the time by an ex or a current); every three minutes a woman is raped in the USA; and every 15 seconds a woman is beaten in the USA.

    We belong to an illustrious group of nations that still have the death penalty (North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran). We think nothing of letting tens of thousands of our own citizens die each year because they are uninsured and thus don’t see a doctor until it’s too late.

    Why do we do this? One theory is simply “because we can.” There is a level of arrogance in the otherwise friendly American spirit, conning ourselves into believing there’s something exceptional about us that separates us from all those “other” countries (there are indeed many good things about us; the same could also be said of Belgium, New Zealand, France, Germany, etc.). We think we’re #1 in everything when the truth is our students are 17th in science and 25th in math, and we’re 35th in life expectancy. We believe we have the greatest democracy but we have the lowest voting turnout of any western democracy. We’re biggest and the bestest at everything and we demand and take what we want.

    And sometimes we have to be violent m*****f*****s to get it. But if one of us goes off-message and shows the utterly psychotic nature and brutal results of violence in a Newtown or an Aurora or a Virginia Tech, then we get all “sad” and “our hearts go out to the families” and presidents promise to take “meaningful action.” Well, maybe this president means it this time. He’d better. An angry mob of millions is not going to let this drop.

    While we are discussing and demanding what to do, may I respectfully ask that we stop and take a look at what I believe are the three extenuating factors that may answer the question of why we Americans have more violence than most anyone else:

    1. POVERTY. If there’s one thing that separates us from the rest of the developed world, it’s this. 50 million of our people live in poverty. One in five Americans goes hungry at some point during the year. The majority of those who aren’t poor are living from paycheck to paycheck. There’s no doubt this creates more crime. Middle class jobs prevent crime and violence. (If you don’t believe that, ask yourself this: If your neighbor has a job and is making $50,000/year, what are the chances he’s going to break into your home, shoot you and take your TV? Nil.)

    2. FEAR/RACISM. We’re an awfully fearful country considering that, unlike most nations, we’ve never been invaded. (No, 1812 wasn’t an invasion. We started it.) Why on earth would we need 300 million guns in our homes? I get why the Russians might be a little spooked (over 20 million of them died in World War II). But what’s our excuse? Worried that the Indians from the casino may go on the warpath? Concerned that the Canadians seem to be amassing too many Tim Horton’s donut shops on both sides of the border?

    No. It’s because too many white people are afraid of black people. Period. The vast majority of the guns in the U.S. are sold to white people who live in the suburbs or the country. When we fantasize about being mugged or home invaded, what’s the image of the perpetrator in our heads? Is it the freckled-face kid from down the street – or is it someone who is, if not black, at least poor?

    I think it would be worth it to a) do our best to eradicate poverty and re-create the middle class we used to have, and b) stop promoting the image of the black man as the boogeyman out to hurt you. Calm down, white people, and put away your guns.

    3. THE “ME” SOCIETY. I think it’s the every-man-for-himself ethos of this country that has put us in this mess and I believe it’s been our undoing. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps! You’re not my problem! This is mine!

    Clearly, we are no longer our brother’s and sister’s keeper. You get sick and can’t afford the operation? Not my problem. The bank has foreclosed on your home? Not my problem. Can’t afford to go to college? Not my problem.

    And yet, it all sooner or later becomes our problem, doesn’t it? Take away too many safety nets and everyone starts to feel the impact. Do you want to live in that kind of society, one where you will then have a legitimate reason to be in fear? I don’t.

    I’m not saying it’s perfect anywhere else, but I have noticed, in my travels, that other civilized countries see a national benefit to taking care of each other. Free medical care, free or low-cost college, mental health help. And I wonder – why can’t we do that? I think it’s because in many other countries people see each other not as separate and alone but rather together, on the path of life, with each person existing as an integral part of the whole. And you help them when they’re in need, not punish them because they’ve had some misfortune or bad break. I have to believe one of the reasons gun murders in other countries are so rare is because there’s less of the lone wolf mentality amongst their citizens. Most are raised with a sense of connection, if not outright solidarity. And that makes it harder to kill one another.

    Well, there’s some food for thought as we head home for the holidays. Don’t forget to say hi to your conservative brother-in-law for me. Even he will tell you that, if you can’t nail a deer in three shots – and claim you need a clip of 30 rounds – you’re not a hunter my friend, and you have no business owning a gun.

    Have a wonderful Christmas or a beautiful December 25th!

  24. Meta
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    ‘Armed Teacher Training Program’ Launches In 15 States:

    An Ohio gun owners’ group is launching an “Armed Teacher Training Program” to instruct teachers and school staff on how to shoot off firearms in the classroom.

    Perhaps at the outlandish suggestion of the National Rifle Association, who last month called for armed guards in every school as a response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary, such programs are popping up around the country. In Ohio, the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, along with a group called the Tactical Defense Institute, is crafting a curriculum specifically designed for teachers and school staff. A local Fox affiliate has details on who is signing up– they report that more than one third of the applicants are women, and that “more than half of the applicants work in high schools”:

    As of Wednesday, the Armed Teacher Training Program has attracted more than 600 applicants from several states including Ohio, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.

    “We knew this would be popular, but the response has exceeded out expectations,” said Jim Irvine, Chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation. “People doubted if we would fill the first class. That happened in hours. This is something many in our schools have been asking about for a long time.” […]

    “No one will be forced to be armed if they choose not to. The strategy is the same as ordinary concealed carry. No one will ever know who is or is not armed. Those who seek to do harm in schools should be met with armed resistance, even before law enforcement shows up. Over time, schools will no longer be considered easy, risk-free targets.”

    Read more:

  25. Meta
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Another troubling turn. This comes from Think Progress.

    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will begin sending armed “posses” to patrol around Arizona schools today, in response to the shooting less than a month ago at Sandy Hook elementary school.

    Arpaio made a name for himself by abusing the civil rights of undocumented immigrants — and for detaining a six year old undocumented child. Now he’s heeding the NRA’s advice that every school needs a “guy with a gun” and is sending out volunteers “with questionable pasts” to guard students:

    Arizona’s 3TV reports that Arpaio’s volunteer force is comprised of around 3,000 members, some of which have criminal pasts.

    According to CBS5, Arpaio’s office has provided a list of more than 50 schools in unincorporated Maricopa County that will be patrolled by the posses, which are in charge of providing all of their own weapons and equipment. The volunteers will not actually be posted on school campuses, but will instead monitor the areas around the facilities.[…]

    The program is getting started as Arpaio prepares to be sworn in for his sixth term on Monday. The volunteer patrols will kick into full gear on Wednesday, and will be rolled out with a press conference.

    Read more:

  26. Meta
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    More on Arpaio’s armed posses, and their criminal pasts.

    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio addressed his controversial armed posses Wednesday, insisting the groups are safe for schools.

    “They’re well-trained,” Arpaio said during an interview with CNN. “[They’ve had] 100 hours in training on guns.”

    The armed posses officially started patrolling dozens of Maricopa County schools Wednesday. Arpaio said the group of volunteers has “proved” its record after patrolling several Arizona malls over the holidays.

    Arpaio also dismissed those who have expressed concern over the criminal pasts of several members of the posse.

    “We have people in law enforcement, including my agency, that have problems,” Arpaio said. “That’s just a copout. That’s ridiculous. [Critics] don’t really understand what they’re talking about. This posse is well-trained. They’re covered liability-wise. They have the authority to enforce the law once I mobilize them. and that’s what we’re going to do.”

    Read more:

  27. John Galt
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    The problem is that Michigan doesn’t take this nearly seriously enough. We should be doing this like Ohio, and arming our janitors.

  28. Eel
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    The NRA has started an ad campaign to get more guns in schools. Their argument is that since Obama’s kids have armed guards protecting them, so should every other child in the nation. (Personally, I think that I should be flown around in a military helicopter because that’s how Obama travels.)

    Here’s the ad:

  29. Meta
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    They went off on this ad on Morning Joe this morning.

    After reviewing the ad on Wednesday, MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle immediately denounced it as “political pornography.”

    “What’s wrong with these people, Mika?” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked co-host Mika Brzezinski. “You have children who had no say in the decision in whether their father, who is going to step forward to be president of the United States, to run for president — one of the most bone-crushing, sacrificing things any husband or wife can do to their family. And the second they make that decision, their children and their entire family have targets on their backs.”

    “And the NRA is putting something out?” he continued. “What’s wrong with these people? Putting out apps that 4 year olds can play on the anniversary of the Newtown murders and now putting out an ad talking about the president’s daughters.”

    “They are out of step, out of the mainstream, totally out of sync with what’s going on in our society and, quite frankly after seeing that, I think that some of the people who run that thing are sick,” Brzezinski agreed. “I really do. I think they are sick in the head. And I’m serious. I’m embarrassed right now. I’m embarrassed for our country, that we have a section of society, the NRA, which should have a voice certainly trying to protect a constitutional amendment. I understand that. There’s a really legitimate debate there, [but] they just took it, they just brought it down to the lowest, most base level. I don’t even want to — it’s now fringe.”

    “They are now a fringe organization with millions of mainstream Americans, gun, hunting guys and women that love to hunt,” Scarborough noted.

    “You should be embarrassed to be part of the NRA at this point,” Brzezinski insisted. “I was even going to try and understand the people running to gun shops and loading up on these high-capacity weapons, assault weapons and magazines. I was willing to understand this debate and understand their fear of laws changing and try and discuss it on this show, but after seeing that, honestly, I’m done. They’re done. This ad is the final straw.”

    “It can’t be a real ad!” Scarborough exclaimed.

    “That’s so sick,” Brzezinski lamented. “That’s some sick person that did it at home in their basement.”

    “It’s just disgusting people,” CNBC host Donny Deutsch piled on. “It just gets to a point where it’s below human decency.”

    “This is how they mark the anniversary of Newtown,” Scarborough sighed. “I’ve never seen an organization as out of touch and extreme with middle America as this one… The NRA’s worst enemy could not be doing the damage to this once-respected, mainstream organization as [NRA CEO] Wayne LaPierre is every single day.”

    “I’m terrified,” Brzezinski concluded.

    Watch it:

  30. Mr. Y
    Posted January 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Best headline of the day:

    ‘Firearms instructor’ hired as school guard leaves handgun in student bathroom

    Welcome to the NRA’s America.

  31. Anonymous 2
    Posted January 19, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I learned yesterday that Ted Nugent is on the NRA board. Hard to imagine they didn’t kick him off when he threatened to kill the President, but I guess that’s the culture of the NRA.

  32. anonymous
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    NRA members are good Americans. It’s not like they’re selling blood-spurting 3D Barack Obama targets for people to shoot at at their convention, or something.

  33. survival instinct
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    This is why we homeschool. Our daughters, six and ten, can carry all of the weapons they can handle.

  34. Dragon
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    The problem is not enough kids know how to take a life. If more kids had to slaughter their own meat, they’d know how to take a life, and they wouldn’t be targets. In the perfect world, every kid would have a knife, if not a gun, and know how to use it. This violence we’re seeing would end over night. Walking into school as an outsider would be an instant death sentence. All we need to do is arm children and encourage them to kill animals.

4 Trackbacks

  1. […] claims, but show then to be pure fiction. I don’t like it, but I can accept that the NRA is attempting to put armed volunteers in our nations’s schools. I can even accept that they’re willing to appeal to the basest reptilian instincts of their […]

  2. […] well-thought-out post on the subject of guns in schools, I’d encourage you to read “The problem, according to the NRA: Not enough ‘good’ guns in schools,” which was written back when I still had the energy to engage on topics like this, instead […]

  3. […] of religion in American life. I railed against the NRA for suggesting that the answer was to put more guns in our schools. And I praised President Obama for his incremental moves to bring sanity to the conversation by […]

  4. By If only there were more guns in Texas on November 5, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    […] The problem, according to the NRA: Not enough “good” guns in schools […]

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