The NRA: if it’s guns or freedom, we’ll have guns, thank you

Paul Wells on the gun lobby’s response to the Newtown shooting


The National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre at a press conference on Dec. 21, 2012 in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)

It’s hard to know where to begin making sense of the NRA’s news conference this morning, in which the leading U.S. gun lobby called for a massive federal program, run by President Barack Obama and his socialist hordes, to finance a constant armed state presence in every neighbourhood in America. I’d have thought conservatives would be against that sort of thing. How will your Arm-a-Care officer get to your neighbourhood school? In a black helicopter?

There is a kind of logic in Wayne Lapierre’s argument. It’s not as though the nearly half-million armed men and women who would flood America’s 98,000 public schools — here I figure two shifts of two snipers each for each school — would be the first firearms a virginal American public ever saw. To quote Lapierre:

Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security.

We care about the President, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by armed Capitol Police officers.

Yet when it comes to the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family — our children — we as a society leave them utterly defenseless, and the monsters and predators of this world know it and exploit it. That must change now!

Lapierre’s logic would be bulletproof, so to speak, if U.S. airports, office buildings, courthouses and Presidents had a spotless record free from armed assault. Or if the correlation between armed protection and safety in any of those venues, worldwide, were clear. But, yes, since America is already armed to the teeth, fully arming the teeth does make a kind of sense, if one is in a generous mood.

There remain questions of practicality. Depending on salary levels, adding that next layer of protection would cost perhaps $20 billion. It would leave movie theatres unprotected, so add another few billion to cover those. Music venues, etc. Amateur sporting events, and so on. Now, Asa Hutchinson, who joined Lapierre at the NRA newser, said this could all be done with volunteers, which is a relief. And of course none of those armed school-patrol volunteers would come from the ranks of the “unknown number of genuine monsters” whom Lapierre said “walk among us every day.” Because that would be unpleasant.

Incidentally, what happens when a school has its marching band and three teams offsite, but most students remain in the building? Maybe we should have at least a half-dozen guards per shift per school. Nothing’s too good for the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family!

To protect against the possibility that a new Obama-funded schoolyard army twice the size of the Iraq occupation force at its largest might turn against the American people, beginning in its schoolyards, a counter-revolutionary force comprising citizen militias in every town will have to be swiftly organized. A secretariat, perhaps occupying a new office tower in Maryland (protected by armed guards) will have to maintain and monitor the new national database of the mentally ill that Lapierre demanded. Because freedom demands national databases to track every American’s mental state! Since mental health can improve or deteriorate rapidly, perhaps the database should be updated monthly. Just to be on the safe side, maybe roving armed volunteers should be permitted to enter homes at random to perform mental-health audits. Don’t like it? But think of the children!

It’s been widely pointed out that while Lapierre was holding his news conference, there was a shooting in Pennsylvania that left four dead, including the shooter. This one actually went the way Lapierre hopes can be imported into schools: After the gunman had shot a few people, police in body armour showed up and the alleged perpetrator died in the resulting firefight. What’s not to like about a proper, fairly-balanced firefight in the hallways of your local school?


The NRA: if it’s guns or freedom, we’ll have guns, thank you

  1. If only the NRA could get their heads out of the sand. I have a feeling there is too much money in the industry to see meaningful change.

    • What makes you think their heads are in the sand? It would seem to me that their heads are inserted up another part of their bodies.

  2. This is exactly why I bought stock in gun companies this week (as I’ve crowed a few times here in the past few days). Keep on makin’ me rich, America!

    • Ethics, shmethics. Show me the cheddah. Disgusting.

      • I hear ya. But I can’t convince Americans to adopt sensible gun control. The best I can do it profit from it. If they want to wipe this smug grin off my face, they can start restricting their guns like the rest of the world (I’m glad to take the financial hit if they do).

  3. How sad and dillusional these freedom loving hypocrites are. If a madman is armed to the teeth, and has carefully put together a plan for such a slaughter, who do you think they will take out first? Epic fail…

  4. These guys would fight alcoholism by extending happy hour and opening more bars

  5. Clint talking to an empty chair makes a lot more sense as you get to know the people he hangs out with.

  6. The NRA had security checks at the press conference. Seems, that even they are afraid of guns when they are pointed at them.

  7. And they say the NRA s a front for the gun manufacturers.

  8. The only logical explanation is that Lapierre is a plant put in place by the gun control lobby in order to sabotage the NRA. And he’s doing a heckuva job.

    • Clearly a false flag operation!

  9. Americans need and will always have their 2nd amendment right, created specifically for tyrannical governments such as the one they currently have. Americans, and truthfully, any freedom loving people anywhere should have the ability to defend themselves. The fact is what he proposed is exactly what is necessary.

    • So when is the revolution – what are you waiting for?

    • Where in the 2nd Amendment does it say anything about Americans resisting their own government?

      • It doesn’t, you’d just have to know a little bit about the Federalist Papers, along with letters and words of the framers of the document, along with the attitudes and opinions of the framers themselves. But it becomes pretty obvious once that’s been done.

        • You mean like Hamilton’s #69, where he goes on at length about treason? Their big concern about treason – and I’ve read beyond just that one document – was that the President not be able to use it as a murky tool to retain power (like Kings were fond of). For example, talking about overthrowing the government was not something to be automatically declared treasonous. But treason they did indeed want to account for and avoid. That seems to trump anything the right to bear arms suggests.

          Now as for the 2nd amendment itself. Interpretations vary from focusing on the militia intent to placing primacy on the individual right (as the most recent supreme court decision in 2008 did). But pay close attention here: the militia clause strongly suggests a concern for internal order – not armed rebellion. So much so, that even individualistic interpretations have drawn the line at things like grenades, tanks, and rocket launchers, because they see that individual right as one of self-defense, not of overthrowing the government.

          Is that what you meant by knowing a bit? Feel free to step beyond your vague, patronizing and unsupported assertion. What have you read that contradicts what I’ve read? And minimally, I think you need to step back from the “pretty obvious” characterization, no?

          • I do wonder what the authors of the constitution would actually say, were they to reappear today. Give them a few months to get up to speed with society today, and then let them indicate their intent, as it relates to Newtown.

            If memory serves, at the time that the Second Amendment was being created, Samuel Colt was still a few years away from developing his revovler, and the gattling gun was decades away. Again, IIRC, at the time, firearms basically consisted of muskets and muzzle loaders and so on.

            Perhaps those founding fathers really would agree that the logical outcome of the Newtown shootings is to place armed guards in schools and so on. But it strikes me as just as likely that they would shake their heads in disbelief wrt what the Second Amendment has morphed into over the last 2+ centuries.

          • Constitutional literalists are as silly as biblical literalists. Add to the mix this fetishization of the “Founding Fathers” (complete with prophets claiming true insight into their motives and meanings), and the USA is fast becoming its own religion.

    • Dude, you have a weird definition of the word fact.

      But as per my post above, you are in mortal danger from your government and should go out and buy half a dozen guns from American manufacturers to save yourself. No, make that TWO dozen (hopin’ to buy a BMW in 2013!)

    • I agree 27. That’s why I fully support all Americans keeping their own nuclear devices. It’s the only rational way to ensure the balance of power between the citizenry and the state remains constant.

  10. How gun control really works:
    1) Legislation
    2) Registration
    3) Confiscation
    4) Extermination

    History always repeats itself, and I for one refuse to be an unarmed peasant.

    • I’m hard pressed to think of an historical case that illustrates your four point thesis. And I’m not sure what you mean by ‘extermination’. Could you please share a case example, and explain point #4?

      • Case Example: The Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-33

        -The Communist’s pass laws forcing people to register their firearms.
        -Not long after government forces start confiscating firearms. The people are told that the government will look after their security.
        -Rich land owners become prime targets and are referred to as “Kulaks”. They are systematically destroyed by deportations to Siberia, concentration camps, and firing squads. Roaming bands of government thugs take anything they desire.
        -Remaining segments of the population are moved onto collective farms. Farmers rebel but have nothing but simple tools to defend themselves.
        -As punishment the government uses food as a weapon when it stops all imports coming into Ukraine. People begin to die of starvation.
        -It is believed that the Ukrainian Genocide claimed an estimated 3.9 million people.
        Bottom Line: History shows us that an unarmed population is always at the mercy of those who posses weapons.

        • All because Kalashnikov hadn’t yet invented the AK-47, no doubt. What a facile re-construction of historical events, skillfully twisted to suit your own narrative..

        • All equipment was taken, not just guns. (Tractors, farm implements, and the like .) And if you think farmers possessing a few hunting rifles would have done anything to stop Stalin’s army, you’re delusional. There’s a lot more context and history to that horrific era than you suggest. For starters, Ukranians were essentially invaded and subdued by Russia. The gun and equipment confiscations were not a matter of domestic government policy, nor were they the first step in a hidden agenda of Stalin’s. It was part and parcel of a vastly dominant foreign invader crushing the local powerless population. It’s a bit like suggesting the Holocaust could have been prevented if European Jews had only been armed.

          Since you’re making absolute statements about the lessons of history, could you please name a few more examples? I think we can all agree that even if your one case did prove your assertion, it would be fair to expect several more before we accept your “bottom line” argument.

          While you’re at it, and just for fun, can you think of any examples where guns were NOT confiscated by the state, but where governments nevertheless were able to crush segments of their own populations? (Hint, there’s lots and lots…)

      • It’s actually a beautiful theory, because its completely unprovable.. so long as a place is anywhere along the path, they can say it’s leading there. If it hasn’t arrived there in decades, like, say, Japan they can just claim it hasn’t happened *yet*.. but any day now…

        • I’ve given this some thought and have come to this conclusion:

          The terrorists of 9/11 wanted to execute a bold strike against America that would hobble it financially and also attack it’s “society”.
          Now we have the fiscal cliff, a crippling debt and both the Dems and (especially) the Republicans waging a testosterone addled jihad on one another. Add to this the reckless antics of the NRA, espousing ever more guns-guns-guns and you have Americans armed to the teeth, nervous as hell and ready to shoot one another at every turn – all in the name of “freedom”.

          Somewhere, Bin Laden is standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier under a banner reading Mission Accomplished

          “Simple” cave dwellers figured out that the way to beat America was not to engage her in a traditional armed conflict, but to merely turn her against herself and pretty much sit back and watch.

          • I think you’re giving them far too much credit. GWB was looking for a way to go to war, specifically with Iraq before he was ever in office, as evidenced by his Time Magazine interview. Katrina still would have happened. The 2008 market crash and subsequent recession still would have happened. Really, all 9/11 did was speed up GWB’s timeline by a couple of years.

            And if anything, without that, the US wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see how badly he’d blown it and there probably wouldn’t have been enough people willing to see even a black man in office before another Republican. Can you imagine what would have happened in the US if the recession had initially been handled by McCain?

            Not to mention that America would still be stuck in a quagmire in the middle east, but McCain, a noted hawk, would have been pushing it even further over the last 4 years into Iran as well. So there still would have been the fiscal cliff, the tea party would still be driving the republican party, and relations would probably have been just as bad or worse, because there wouldn’t even have been attempts made to compromise.. and the “for the troops” rallying cry would have been being used to silence dissent to such an extent that the Dixie Chicks would have felt they got off easy.

  11. Replace guns with nuclear weapons, and that speech could be seamlessly grafted into a remake of Dr. Strangelove. It would be the height of satirical brilliance. Words escape me to describe it in the context of real life (and real death), though.

  12. Until they find a SCOTUS that can read the 2nd amendment and see
    and understand the word “militia” it will probably be easier to ban
    schools than guns or their many varieties.
    There. Problem solved.

  13. If freedom means freedom of speech then give me freedom, it’s much easier to take back words than bullets.

  14. A statistic that informs the debate is that there are more gun dealers than McDonalds in the USA — they have to find a way to keep these NRA stalwarts profitable (and the manufacturers who count on them to move product). As in many debates — just follow the money.

  15. It takes tyranny to enact prohibition on private firearms
    ownership and that is why this has only been done successfully by tyrannies –
    the root cause is not firearms ownership, but a societal breakdown. These
    types of firearms have been in circulation since WW2 and this sort of thing
    wasn’t an issue back then – it is a recent phenomenon that goes hand in hand
    with our new “progressive” society. Pop on Google and type in
    “Japan knife rampage” and you can read about what happens in
    countries where firearms are generally unobtainable by ordinary citizens – oh
    my – what do they do now?

    • “Been in circulation” != “had similar availability”

  16. Paul, I’m surprised you didn’t hit on the obvious fix – make bullet proof vests manditory school uniforms. I smell a business opportunity America!

  17. “I’d have thought conservatives would be against that sort of thing.”

    These guys aren’t conservatives. They’re a single issue interest group. From what I’ve seen this idea has been panned pretty much across the ideological spectrum. My hope is that conservatives will see that if these are the contortions gun activists have to go through to justify the status quo, nobody who cares about more than this issue should be willing to go along with them.