Wayne LaPierre of the NRA says that the answer to school shootings is an armed police officer in every school in America, and Congress should ensure that this happens when kids come back from winter break in January.
Because cops are bulletproof, apparently, and are never shot. And a shooter with an AR-15 in his hand, finger on the trigger, will be stopped by a cop with a .9 millimeter in a holster who doesn’t know the asshole is coming.
And schools are the only place that’s vulnerable. Tell that to the Sikhs in Oak Creek, the moviegoers in Aurora, the shoppers in Clackamas, the staff and patients at the hospital facility here in Pittsburgh, Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents outside a grocery story. The women at the LA Fitness in Bridgeville, PA. The people at Tennessee Valley UU Church. The lunch eaters at the McDonalds in San Diego. The soldiers at Fort Hood.
Because cops never open fire on unarmed civilians who they “think” have guns. Because shootouts between cops and criminals never kill bystanders. (Who in LaPierre’s construction, would be children.) Because cops are inherently trustworthy and their presence in a school wouldn’t escalate the potential for school violence to turn deadly. (Where there’s a gun, a gun can be used.)
LaPierre also blamed violence not on guns, but on television, movies and video games, specifically naming “Mortal Kombat” in which none of the characters have a gun.
And LaPierre specifically scapegoated people with mental illnesses, calling for a national database of people with mental illnesses. No national database of guns or gun owners, but of those of us with mental illnesses. Never mind that people struggling with depression who can’t get out of bed don’t kill people. Just ignore the fact that two soldiers with PTSD commit suicide every day, on average, but so far, none have shot up a crowd of innocent people. Forget that people with schizophrenia, widely thought dangerous, are actually exponentially more likely to be victims of crime rather than perpetrators. And easily, casually, thoughtlessly set aside the fact that the vast, vast majority of gun crimes are not committed by a person with a mental illness.
Where there’s a gun, there’s a gun that can be used. Increasing the number of guns in vulnerable places (which would be, we’ve seen, as 2012 has shown us, is everywhere) only increases the likelihood of someone being shot there, and that’s not an improvement. Not by any means.
This is the NRA’s “substantial offering” to solve gun violence. This is the same old rhetoric they’ve been pushing for the entirety of their existence. It is anti-science, anti-statistic, anti-factual nonsense.
It’s time to be serious – which starts with no longer letting an organization that represents 1.3% of Americans dictate public policy on this issue.
I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as “jack-booted thugs.” To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as “wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms” wanting to “attack law abiding citizens” is a vicious slander on good people.
Al Whicher, who served on my [ United States Secret Service ] detail when I was Vice President and President, was killed in Oklahoma City. He was no Nazi. He was a kind man, a loving parent, a man dedicated to serving his country – and serve it well he did.
In 1993, I attended the wake for A.T.F. agent Steve Willis, another dedicated officer who did his duty. I can assure you that this honorable man, killed by weird cultists, was no Nazi.
John Magaw, who used to head the U.S.S.S. and now heads A.T.F., is one of the most principled, decent men I have ever known. He would be the last to condone the kind of illegal behavior your ugly letter charges. The same is true for the F.B.I.’s able Director Louis Freeh. I appointed Mr. Freeh to the Federal Bench. His integrity and honor are beyond question.
Both John Magaw and Judge Freeh were in office when I was President. They both now serve in the current administration. They both have badges. Neither of them would ever give the government’s “go ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law abiding citizens.” (Your words)
I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of N.R.A.’s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental stance in favor of owning guns.
However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.
You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre’s unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a Life Member of N.R.A., said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list.
Richard Martinez’s son Christopher was among the six college students murdered this weekend in Isla Vista, California. It’s impossible to fathom the grief that Martinez must be experiencing right now, and the simple fact that he is upright and mobile is an act of tremendous courage. Which is precisely what makes everything else that he has done in the days since he lost his son all the more astounding.
From his first public statement — a blistering and emotional indictment of “craven” politicians who refuse to act on even moderate gun reform — to the tribute to Christopher he delivered Tuesday before a crowd of thousands, Martinez has been willing to show his raw and devastating grief to the world. He has made himself the gnarled and anguished face of our broken system — the lives that it takes and the lives that it ruins. His vulnerability and righteous, focused anger is unlike anything we’ve seen in response to a mass shooting.
And it should scare the shit out of the National Rifle Association, the gun lobby and the cowardly politicians who use these deadly weapons as literal and figurative political props.
It isn’t just the force of Martinez’s emotions or political conviction that make him powerful. He is currently shouldering the unimaginable grief of being yet another parent who has lost yet another child in yet another mass shooting. He has seen this happen before, he knows the political script that’s already playing out. He has listened as gun apologists — time and again — urge the nation not to “politicize” a national tragedy out of respect for the families, and then watched them turn on these same families in order to protect our deadly — and immensely profitable — culture of guns. And he’s using it. All of it.
Days after 26 people were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut, Wayne LaPierre denounced gun reform advocates for “exploit[ing] the tragedy for political gain.” Months later, Sarah Palin echoed the sentiment. ”Leaders are in it for themselves, not for the American people,” she told a crowd that summer, before effectively declaring how proud she was that her son Trig would grow up in a country where men like Elliot Rodger and Adam Lanza can buy guns and hoard ammunition without authorities batting an eyelash.
Martinez may be the single most powerful force we have against this kind of slithering political cowardice. He’s already familiar with the political dirty tricks and knows where the conversation will eventually turn — that the pro-gun crowd is going to come out hard against him, just as they have turned on other parents and survivors. “Right now, there hasn’t been much blowback from the other side,” Martinez noted during a Tuesday interview with MSNBC. “But I anticipate that once my grieving period is over, the gloves will come off. I don’t think it’s going to be easy. They are going to try to do to me the same thing that they’ve done to all of these people. But I have a message for them: My son is dead. There is nothing you could do to me that is worse than that.”
I can’t imagine a more direct rebuttal to the LaPierres and the Palins in this country. To the ridiculous rifle-holding Mitch McConnells and every other ludicrous coward currently walking the halls of Congress and state legislatures across the country. These are the people who — as Martinez has made explicit — are responsible for these terribly predictable and preventable tragedies. Because they have the power to implement sensible reform, but instead stand by and do nothing while more people die every single day.
Martinez also knows that while it’s the public’s job to hold our leadership’s feet to the fire, he’s not the one responsible for having all the answers. “Where’s the leadership on this? We elect these people and we give them power, and it’s just outrageous,” he said during the same interview. “My son just died a few days ago, and you expect me to have the answers to these questions? There are people out there who have the answers. Why isn’t our leadership rounding these people up?”
But Martinez’s grasp of the issue puts most of our elected officials to shame. “When you asked me about solutions, here’s what I’ve learned,” he explained. “This is a complicated issue, but there’s a certain commonality between these events. Typically, all of these incidents involved […] mental health issues, gun violence and violence against women. These three problems are almost always combined.”
Like other parents whose lives have been upturned by gun violence — women like Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin — Martinez recognizes and is naming the pattern of violence in the most public way imaginable. But while Congress has so far been wildly successful at shutting down gun reform efforts, parents like Martinez, McBath and Fulton — who are electrifying the national conversation and building solidarity among other families forever changed by rampant access to deadly weapons — may be impossible for them to ignore. They are the most powerful messengers we could ask for.
Martinez is brave, destroyed, weeping, loud, furious and unpredictable in his grief. He is channeling all of that with a singular focus: Change. Or as he said that first day, introducing himself to the world as the grieving but determined father of Christopher Michaels-Martinez: “Not one more.”
“For me to live with this and honor his memory, I will continue to go anywhere and talk to anybody for as long as they want and are willing to listen to me about this problem. I’m not going to shut up,” he said Tuesday. He really seems to mean it.
Wayne LaPierre, the spokesman for the National Rifle Association, would have been better advised to remain wherever he had been hiding after the Newtown massacre, rather than appear at the news conference on Friday. No one seriously believed the N.R.A. when it said it would contribute something “meaningful” to the discussion about gun violence. The organization’s very existence is predicated on the nation being torn in half over guns. Still, we were stunned by Mr. LaPierre’s mendacious, delusional, almost deranged rant.
Mr. LaPierre looked wild-eyed at times as he said the killing was the fault of the media, songwriters and singers and the people who listen to them, movie and TV scriptwriters and the people who watch their work, advocates of gun control, video game makers and video game players.
The N.R.A., which devotes itself to destroying any hope of compromise on guns, however, is blameless. So are the unscrupulous and unlicensed dealers who sell guns to criminals, and the gun makers who bankroll Mr. LaPierre so he can help them keep peddling their ever-more-lethal, ever-more-efficient products, and politicians who kill laws that would exert even modest controls over guns.
He offered nothing more than the most ridiculous anti-gun-control rhetoric we’ve heard since the Newtown murders. His solution to the proliferation of guns, including semiautomatic rifles that have little purpose beyond killing people as quickly as possible, is to put more guns in more places. Mr. LaPierre would put a police officer in every school and compel teachers and principals to become armed guards, because his group won’t do anything about the ease with which anyone can get a gun.
He wants volunteer and professional firefighters, who already risk their lives every day, to be charged with thwarting an assault by a deranged murderer. The same applies to paramedics, security guards, veterans, retired police officers. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Mr. LaPierre said. (It is interesting that such a literal reader of the Second Amendment would have missed the fact that Congress has no power over local police forces and schools. Talk about Big Brother government.)
We cannot imagine trying to turn the principals and teachers who care for our children every day into an armed mob. And let’s be clear, civilians bristling with guns to prevent the “next Newtown” are an armed mob even with training offered up by Mr. LaPierre. Any town officials or school principal who takes up the N.R.A. on that offer should be fired.
Mr. LaPierre said the Newtown killing spree “might” have been averted if the killer had been confronted by an armed security guard. It’s far more likely that there would have been a dead armed security guard — just as there would have been even more carnage if civilians had started firing weapons in the Aurora movie theater.
In the 62 mass-murder cases over 30 years examined recently by the magazine Mother Jones, not one was stopped by an armed civilian. There are two cases in which armed civilians confronted a shooter. Both were immediately shot. One died.
We have known for many, many years that a sheriff’s deputy was at Columbine High School in 1999 and traded shots with Eric Harris while 11 of the 13 people he and Dylan Klebold killed were still alive. He missed four times.
People like Mr. LaPierre want us to believe that civilians can be trained to use lethal force with cold precision in moments of fear and crisis. That requires a willful ignorance about the facts. Police officers know that firing a weapon is a huge risk; that’s why they avoid doing it. In August, New York City police officers opened fire on a gunman outside the Empire State Building. They killed him and wounded nine bystanders.
Mr. LaPierre said the news media give mass killers the attention they seek. He said the news media call the semiautomatic weapon used in Newtown a machine gun, claim that it’s a military weapon and that it fires the most powerful ammunition available. That’s not true. What is true is that there is a growing call in America for stricter gun control.
The public wants guns out of the schools, not in the schools, and they’re not asking for a security official or someone else.
I don’t think the NRA is listening. I don’t think that they understand. Most Americans would protect the Second Amendment rights and yet agree with the idea that not every human being should own a gun, not every gun should be available at anytime, anywhere, for anyone. That at gun shows, you should not be able to buy something there and then without any kind of check whatsoever.
What they’re looking for is a common-sense approach that says that those who are law-abiding should continue to have the right to own a weapon, but that you don’t believe the right should be extended to everyone at every time for every type of weapon.
GOP political strategist and pollster Frank Luntz on CBS’ “This Morning” in response to NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre’s press conference calling for more guns and armed guards in schools.
Luntz gets it. Let’s see if the GOP listens to him.