“I can imagine the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow morning: ‘More guns,’ you’ll claim, ‘are the NRA’s answer to everything!’ Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools. But since when did the word ‘gun’ automatically become a bad word?”
— Wayne Lapierre, National Rifle Association
On Friday morning, Wayne Lapierre provided any thoughtful, reasonable person substantial evidence that the National Rifle Association is a blight on the American public.
In his first public remarks since the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school eight days ago, the NRA executive vice-president called for every school in the United States to have an armed police officer as a way to curb similar violent outbreaks.
After a week of silence, Lapierre made up for lost time by attacking several public targets — moderates for wanting to ban the sale of assault weapons, Hollywood for filming “blood-soaked slasher films,” the media for reporting detailed accounts of mass murder and other mayhem and U.S. President Barack Obama for scrapping policing grants and emergency planning grants for schools.
Here are a few other choice quotes from Lapierre’s Friday-morning tirade:
• “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 behaviour and criminal cruelty into our homes — every minute of every day of every month of every year.”
• “Worse, they perpetuate the dangerous notion that one more gun ban — or one more law imposed on peaceful, lawful people — will protect us where 20,000 others have failed!”
• “The budget of our local police departments are strained and resources are limited, but their dedication and courage are second to none and they can be deployed right now.”
Last Monday on this page, we suggested that until the United States finally begins to address the twin problems of the sale of assault weapons and the fact that mental health benefits are not covered to the same degree as medical benefits, these kinds of shootings will become ever more commonplace.
But we do recognize how difficult that fight will be for Democrats and the president. As The Associated Press reported this week, assault weapon sales jumped substantially in the wake of the shooting, with some gun shop owners anticipating only more interest after Obama instructed his administration to create concrete proposals to reduce gun violence by January.
Lapierre is correct about one thing, however — we do believe that the NRA’s apparent solution to everything appears to be guns, guns and more guns. Get guns in schools. Make sure every teacher and principal has one. The only problem with that idea is that, thus far, guns have failed to stop even one mass murder.
Next they’ll be trying to get handguns into the stubby little fingers of six-year-olds who can barely spell their name, let alone have the reason necessary to handle such a weapon.
Adding more guns to the mix is simply not a good option. Attempting to rein in an out-of-control gun culture is far more difficult, but a much more worthy effort.
And yet, there are signs that change is possible. Between 2007 — the year of the Virginia Tech shooting — through this year’s massacre at a theatre in Colorado, an ever-increasing number of Americans thought such horrific incidents were merely isolated episodes. After the Aurora shootings in Colorado last July, a Pew Research Center poll suggested only 24 per cent of Americans thought such mass killings were a reflection of bigger problems in society.
But in a stark reversal, a Washington Post-ABC poll published on Dec. 17 showed that a slim majority of Americans see the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary as a sign of broader problems in American society and not just an isolated act of a mentally troubled person.
The terrible incident at Sandy Hook, in which 20 children and six adults were killed, may finally force some change in the United States, though what that change will be is anybody’s guess.