For a week now, the country has waited to see how the NRA, the nation's most powerful and influential gun-promoting organization, would respond to the Newtown massacre. In a press conference this morning — more like a televised statement — we got our answer. In a defiant, sometimes even petulant tone, NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre blamed gun-free school zones, America's "refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill," a "declining willingness to prosecute dangerous criminals, "the mass media," "slasher films," music videos, and "violent video games" for gun violence. There were even a couple of bizarre references to how "another hurricane" could lead to "a national nightmare of violence and victimization."
But guns? This has nothing to do with guns. In fact, Lapierre's solution — the only solution, he insisted — to the epidemic of gun violence is more guns: specifically, placing armed guards in every one of America's approximately 140,000 schools. (As Dave Weigel points out, Columbine had an armed security guard.) Generously, LaPierre offered the NRA's services in training this new army and crafting a "National School Shield Emergency Response program for every school that wants it." LaPierre did not address how this plan would in any way help to ameliorate the vastly greater number of gun deaths that occur outside of schools.
More than anything, LaPierre's self-serving appearance this morning dashed any notions that This Time Might Be Different — that in the wake of a soul-crushing tragedy that left twenty young children dead, the NRA might be willing to come to the table and cooperate on sensible gun-control initiatives instead of reflexively opposing anything that would make it more difficult for anyone to own any kind of weapon they desire.
Update: Mayor Bloomberg was not impressed:
Instead of solutions to a problem they have helped create, @nra offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) December 21, 2012
Update II: Connecticut senator-elect Chris Murphy is even more disgusted:
Walking out of another funeral and was handed the NRA transcript. The most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 21, 2012