The National Rifle Association ended its official silence following the Newtown amoklauf with a statement from executive Wayne LaPierre. After the delay, LaPierre seems only to echo a point made by gun nuts for the past week: the amoklauf happened because public schools are gun-free zones, leaving no one with the capacity to stop a rampage killer. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun," he said in the headline quote for the event, "is a good guy with a gun." Of course, this ignores the occasions, in Tucson for instance, when the bad guys have been stopped by unarmed people who simply summoned the courage to tackle shooters. To my knowledge, no amoklauf has been resolved according to the NRA's ideal scenario, with the shooter taken down by an armed civilian. Having made his point, however, LaPierre recommended a step somewhat short of what individual gun nuts have proposed. Many of them, citing the Israeli example, want to arm teachers. Instead, LaPierre wants armed security guards, preferably policemen, in schools. He may have realized, however unpleasant it may have been to contemplate, that arming teachers probably would make amoklaufs more likely. Putting responsible, trained people in the halls is a reasonable if regrettable step that may be necessary to restore confidence in school safety. While LaPierre expects Congress to fund this, he also believes that "massive funding should not be required" to meet his goal. Can't offend the fiscal conservatives, as Speaker Boehner has learned to his embarrassment.
Of course, LaPierre was at pains to deny that guns themselves facilitate amoklaufs. He throws the blame on that alternate scapegoat, the media, citing video games and violent movies as the primary instigators. It would seem, however, that no one could imitate what they see in the most violent media without getting guns first. The NRA might want to say that the media turns guns into weapons of evil in damaged imaginations, but it seems that the media simply takes the already-established lethal efficiency of guns for granted. While we might concede that the relative influence of guns and media is a chicken-egg query, we can say more definitely that gun apologists' rhetoric of armed resistance to nebulous threats to individual liberty and their insistence upon a natural, individual right to lethal self-defense have not been fully weighed as factors in recent atrocities. If violent movies and video games may be criticized for the way they show guns being used, may not those people who want guns, and want more people to own them, not just for protection from "criminals" but for defense against "enemies" more vaguely and thus more suggestively and dangerously defined? Can't it be argued that the militant rhetoric of resistance enables (or empowers) anyone with a persecution complex to "defend" themselves by any means necessary? Does that mean that no one should propose resistance to unconstitutional acts of government? Not if "Second Amendment remedies" aren't your first response, and not as long as you realize that such remedies are unrealistic and only encourage more unrealistic imaginations. As long as the NRA fails to realize, or acknowledge, that affirming an individual right to kill is problematic, they have little more to contribute to the debate over gun rights beyond Mr. LaPierre's potentially helpful proposal today.