Atroc­i­ties over­power NRA’S fee­ble gun­sling­ing de­fense

Austin American-Statesman - - BALANCED VIEWS - Dowd writes forThe New York Times.


a lit­tle over­wrought now. The NRA un­der­stands that. It’s as pa­tient with us as a hus­band with a tremu­lous preg­nant wife prone to cry­ing jags.

This is just a pass­ing melt­down. We’ll get our­selves back un­der con­trol soon and things will re­turn to nor­mal.

For decades, when the pub­lic has grown more sym­pa­thetic to gun con­trol af­ter an at­tempted as­sas­si­na­tion or a spike in gun mur­ders or a har­row­ing school shoot­ing, Wayne La Pierre and his fel­low NRA of­fi­cials have hun­kered down to wait for the “hys­te­ria,” as they call it, to pass.

They rule in the back rooms on Capi­tol Hill and rein in pan­icked sen­a­tors and con­gress­men who fret that they should back some measly leg­is­la­tion to pre­tend they are not gun-lobby pawns.

They de­fend any­one own­ing any­thing with a trig­ger, re­it­er­at­ing that mil­i­tary-style semi-au­to­mat­ics are just uglier hunt­ing guns.

While there were more heart­break­ing fu­ner­als in New­town, Conn., with long hearses car­ry­ing small bod­ies, La Pierre stepped to the mi­cro­phone in Washington on Fri­day to present the lat­est vari­a­tion of his Or­wellian creed: Guns don’t kill peo­ple. Me­dia kill peo­ple.

“Rather than face their own mo­ral fail­ings,” he said in high dud­geon, “the me­dia de­mo­nize gun own­ers, am­plify their cries for more laws, and fill the na­tional me­dia with mis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­hon­est think­ing that only de­lay mean­ing­ful ac­tion, and all but guar­an­tee that the next atroc­ity is only a news cy­cle away.”’

La Pierre, who lit­er­ally trem­bles when the om­nipo­tent gun lobby is un­der siege, went bal­lis­tic paint­ing a threat­en­ing pic­ture of the dystopia that awaits if we don’t pro­tect our schools from guns by putting guns in schools.

“The truth is that our so­ci­ety is pop­u­lated by an un­known num­ber of gen­uine mon­sters,” he said. “They walk among us ev­ery sin­gle day, and does any­body really be­lieve that the next Adam Lanza isn’t plan­ning his at­tack on a school he’s al­ready iden­ti­fied ...?”

How many more copy­cat killers, he asked omi­nously, are wait­ing in the wings for their moment of fame?

On the day that 6-year-old Olivia En­gel, who was go­ing to play an an­gel in her church’s Na­tiv­ity play, was buried, La Pierre heinously cloaked his re­fusal to con­sider any reme­dies to gun vi­o­lence — not even bet­ter back­ground checks — as ten­der con­cern for the 20 “lit­tle kids” shot in cold blood.

He kicked around the old whip­ping boy, vi­o­lent video games, even though plenty of his 4 mil­lion mem­bers no doubt play vi­o­lent video games. And he re­peated his old saw: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

The press con­fer­ence, where the press was not al­lowed to ask ques­tions, played like an in­sane par­ody: a tightly wound lob­by­ist who earns a mil­lion or so a year by re­fus­ing to make the slight­est con­ces­sion on gun safety, de­spite re­peated slaugh­ters by de­ranged shoot­ers with jaw-drop­pingly easy ac­cess to firearms.

La Pierre makes Charlton He­ston look like Michael Moore. The NRA vice pres­i­dent, who once called fed­eral agents “jack­booted government thugs,” in­sists the so­lu­tion to gun vi­o­lence is putting po­lice of­fi­cers, or “armed good guys,” in ev­ery one of the na­tion’s 98,817 K-12 schools.

His logic is spu­ri­ous. Hunters can have their guns with­out leav­ing Amer­i­cans so vul­ner­a­ble to be­ing hunted by de­mented souls with as­sault ri­fles that can fire 45 rounds per minute.

And con­sider that in 1999 an armed sher­iff’s deputy polic­ing Columbine High School ex­changed fire with the shoot­ers, and still they killed 12 other stu­dents and a teacher. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ac­cused La Pierre of “a shame­ful eva­sion.”

It’s shock­ing that the NRA can’t even fake it bet­ter. It didn’t try to mask its ob­du­rate stance by putting forth a less harsh of­fi­cial — a woman who’s a mother and a hunter, for in­stance. Maybe it could have prompted a se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion about armed guards at schools if it had a less crazed pre­sen­ta­tion and less of an ab­so­lute vi­sion that “guns are cool,” as David Keene, its pres­i­dent, says.

The 63-year-old La Pierre and the 67year-old Keene, a can­tan­ker­ous former Bob Dole ad­viser whose son went to prison for shoot­ing at an­other driver in a road-rage fit, seemed as out-of-touch as Mitt Rom­ney’s cam­paign and the white, ma­cho Repub­li­can Party.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, who should have been alarmed that his re­elec­tion in­spired a boom in gun sales, seems daunted at the prospect of tak­ing on gun lovers, hav­ing handed the mat­ter off to Joe Bi­den to study. The pres­i­dent seems to be set­ting the ta­ble for de­feat. If only he had the vis­ceral out­rage of a Bloomberg. Who knows what could hap­pen?

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