12.23.2012

NRA Prescription for Short-Sightedness: Rose-Colored Glasses





There are times to speak and times to shut up.  The NRA's silence would have been more preferable than this asinine suggestion that more guns will reduce mass shootings in the USA.  In other words, if we just kill the right people we wouldn't have so many mass murders.   

The NRA’s Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre goes on to say that there are evil people out there, monsters who are so possessed by voices that we cannot comprehend them.  He is of course talking about the mentally ill.   But he'd rather shoot and kill them instead of treating them.  

There's more....  LaPierre also suggests that the government's refusal to create and maintain a national database of the mentally ill somehow adds fuel to the fire.  As if it is more important to track the mentally ill than it is to track weapons.  

Federal gun prosecutions have decreased in 40% according to Mr. LaPierre, which he seems to complain about, but yet he fails to acknowledge the NRA doesn't support such prosecutions.  Not only that, but the NRA and it's supporters in Washington have actively and successfully blocked any and all research on gun violence in America.




And like any red-blooded, gun-toting, patriotic, 2nd Amendment zealot - Mr. LaPierre has the kahunas to blame everything else.  Violent video games, movies, music, and other forms of entertainment.  He is right of course, but like most of our problems it isn't that simple.

Violent video games are an extension of our gun culture - not the other way around.  Americans love violence, much as the ancient Romans did.  It's been in our DNA since the day of our birth.  For decades young boys (and sometimes girls) played with plastic guns and knives - long before the first edition of Grand Theft Auto.   Comedy routines on vaudeville and on the big screen featured slapstick comedy, itself a form of assault but in a humorous setting.   The point is art imitates life and life imitates art.  Which makes this problem more complicated.

Removing guns won't remove the violence, that I can agree with the NRA on.  But adding more weapons won't remove the violence either.  



"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,''
-- Wayne LaPierre



This comes from someone who has never planned for anything and can only see the situation at the moment it occurs.  Otherwise LaPierre would have stated a disclaimer in front of that statement.   

We cannot shoot our way out of a mass killing.  To insinuate we can is an insult to our collective intelligence.  And to claim that you have the one and only remedy is arrogant at best.   


First of all, there are many ways to prevent mass murders.  And most of them occur before the shooting would take place.  A prized example is Australia, a nation that also suffered horrible mass shootings such as the one in Port Arthur, Tazmania on April 28, 1996.  Their government actually did something about it and placed tight restrictions on weapons, particularly guns and assault rifles.  In the 16 years since - no mass shootings.   

Of course the USA is not Australia.  The most fervent gun rights advocates in the USA are also fearful of their own government - which is why they stockpile weapons in the first place. With the NRA on their side, any meaningful action can be thwarted.   In this announcement by the NRA, we can clearly see - it's the same song, different verse. 

There are other ways to prevent mass murders.  As the NRA suggests, America does need a better mechanism for finding and treating the mentally ill.  However, that takes money and the NRA's bedfellows - formally known as Republicans - abhor spending any money on anyone except "job creators".  So that leaves the mentally ill on the streets, with no where to go. 

Which leads me to my second point - guns and weapons will always find their way someone who wants to kill indiscriminately if such guns are readily available to the public.   The suspect in the Aurora killings at a movie theater this past summer did all of the things necessary to purchase his weapons legally.    The government, thanks to NRA support, had no means to stop him from obtaining the guns or tear gas used in the attack.  

There are also law-abiding citizens, who may have no interest in owning a gun themselves, but who will sell their eligibility status to the highest bidder.  For $500, I can get my permit if I don't already have one, wait the mandatory 7-days, obtain my handgun, and give it to my neighbor who doesn't qualify for gun ownership.   If the gun is traced back to me, I'd simply say it was stolen, but I didn't know about it.  Either way I have my $500.  If I do that a few times, establish a reputation on the street, I can make boatloads of cash just buying weapons for those who cannot qualify.  That's just one way assault rifles can wind up in the wrong hands.   The best solution - ban guns (okay, maybe that's not practical).  

Third, mass shootings, or any shooting, do not unfold as nicely and neatly as the NRA and other gun supporters seem to suggest.    

Mr. LaPierre seems to suggest that a good guy with a gun can take out a bad guy with a gun.  As if that's all that we need.   It assumes this is the situation:

http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2012/103/f/7/an_assault_rifle_and_a_smg_by_volfraider-d4w1e8f.jpgBad Guy walks in to a mall.  Bad Guy pulls out his assault rifle.  Good Guy sees Bad Guy and pulls out his concealed handgun.  Good Guy kills Bad Guy on the spot.  One shot, maybe two, both of which hit the target. The world is saved and Good Guy is treated as a hero.  

That's what I call the Rosy Scenario.  

Here are some more realistic scenarios....

1)  Bad Guy walks into a mall.  Bad Guy pulls out his assault rifle.  Good Guy doesn't see Bad Guy and is killed before he could reach for his handgun.    Bad Guy can now continue shooting until police arrive.

2) Bad Guy walks into a mall.  Bad Guy pulls out his assault rifle.  Good Guy doesn't see Bad Guy but isn't in the line fire.  Good Guy hears gunshots and pulls out his handgun and ducks for cover.  Good Guy doesn't get a clear shot of Bad Guy but shoots anyway from behind a barricade.  Good Guy misses target and his bullet kills a bystander.   Bad Guy doesn't notice and keeps firing.  Good Guy fires again, misses again.  Bad Guy notices this time and turns his attention on Good Guy.  Bad Guy fires in Good Guy's direction killing people around Good Guy. 

3) Bad Guy walks into a mall.  Bad Guy pulls out his assault rifle. Good Guy sees Bad Guy and pulls his weapon.  Good Guy takes a position behind a wall.  Bad Guy shoots and the people scramble.  Good Guy 2 hears the gunshots and pulls his weapon.  Good Guy 2 sees Good Guy firing his weapon so Good Guy 2 shoots Good Guy, not realizing what he's done.  Bad Guy is still shooting. 


I could go on and on with similar variances, but you get the idea.  The Rosy Scenario only happens in movies and staged hoaxes.   
Stopping this violence takes more than a gun. You have to be trained not only to shoot straight, but to do so under high stress, high adrenaline, and without accidentally putting innocent people in harm's way. Easier said than done. Highly trained cops and soldiers are fallible and have been known to cause "collateral damage". So what chance does a "good guy" have when all he's done is shoot stationary targets in a shooting range, or perhaps taken a safety class or two?
There is a solution to this problem.  It has been done in other countries and could just as well be done here in the US of A.  Since the Wayne LaPierre and the NRA cannot lead, refuse to follow, they should get the hell out of the way!


References:  NPR Fresh Air, NBC News, NPR Morning Edition, Fox News, NEBC

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