21 December 2012

The NRA's modest proposal

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.


Anonymous said...

You call me a gun nut.

I am a disabled elder woman, an independent voter, both pro-choice and pro-RKBA. I no longer have a political party or even a label. I'm just me.

On at least two occasions in my life, my carrying of a concealed firearm has kept me from being brutally beaten and perhaps killed.

You are wilfully misunderstanding what Mr. La Pierre said in his statement today. That is unfortunate. You are excoriating him for pointing out that disarming the innocent and leaving them prey is immoral.

And you betray a deep mistrust of the common sense, restraint, and law-abiding character of the vast majority of Americans.

You can cherry pick examples where a law abiding concealed carry individual could not have helped the situation, to back up your assertions.

But you ignore the continual examples of people like me, for whom concealed carry protected us.

Perhaps you consider me less important than Ms. Giffords. Not nearly so worth protecting. I have no one to rely on but myself.

You are willfully ignoring Mr. La Pierre's--and people like myself's--point that predators seek the easiest prey. They respond to, and are held in check by, force. Not laws. If laws held them in check they would have been checked long ago.

You believe in the magic juju notion of law--that somehow there is a magical law that, if passed, will convert all future malefactors into law-abiders.

You present a peculiarly Luddite and specifically Catholic view of tool use: you do not trust the Promethean power that the democratization of firearms gives to Americans. We are the first people in the history of humanity who can say no to individual and political tyranny. My ancestors fought for that in the Revolution. They constituted it as basic to our Republic.

But you do not believe it. You believe in gun nuts. You think I am one. You are sure that if all guns went away, predators would not find another way to kill. And when they did, it would basically be OK, so long as it wasn't with guns. This isn't reason. This is fetishism.

Samuel Wilson said...

Anon, I didn't call you a gun nut -- I don't even know your name. But the last generation has given me ample reason to mistrust the common sense of Americans in general. If that makes me more concerned with the potential victims of amoklaufers than the potential victims of criminals, so be it. What "magic juju notion" do you propose to ensure that no one who acquires guns for protection from criminals decides to use them for protection from "enemies." If your answer is "good guys with guns," that only begs the question. Any example you might cite is no more and no less "cherry picking" than any of my examples. Read this blog more deeply and you'll see that I readily acknowledge that lunatics can find many tools to kill with. But I still say that anyone who affirms an individual right to kill only exacerbates all the murderous impulses out there.

Anonymous said...

Firearms democratize nothing. First and foremost, I believe you are a liar and nothing more. I do NOT accept the lie that you are some elderly woman who packs a pistol and has had to draw it on "bad guys". Present credentials and proof of what you say or desist with your right-wing violence. The FACT is, if none of those lunatics had access to firearms, those amoklaufs COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. In every case, the firearm(s) in question were LEGALLY obtained.

An armed society is a violent society. If you wish to end violence, end guns, end poverty and end ignorance. Until YOU are willing to do that, nothing will change. Insofar as the idiotic suggestion of the NRA morons - such simpletons simply cannot be taken seriously. The minute the population decides it is a better thing to have armed guards in our schools, rather than disarm villains, you have only proven what a bunch of psychotic, bloodthirsty cretins have been allowed to flourish in this country.

Jesus denounced violence and those who promote it. This is simply more evidence that the right-wing is so full of hypocrisy that they can not be trusted.

Samuel Wilson said...

To be fair, elder woman didn't say she was a Christian.

hobbyfan said...

Yo, Sam!

LaPierre was castigated by the NYC tabloids, labeled insane, because he dared to fly defiantly in the face of the public backlash over Newtown, and, since then, Webster, NY, failing to see the true solution.

Anonymous also fails to see the solution. If we can identify the ones with psychological disorders, especially at such young ages, and try to help them before they spiral out of self-control and into an abyss of hopelessness, it takes away the prospect of amoklaufs raging out of control like wildfires.

The NRA is enabled by a couple of generations of ill-informed citizenry. They don't see that a lot of problems stem from either broken families, broken marriages/relationships, etc., and other social issues that the media doesn't try to fully examine until it's too late.