I’ve already seen the reports saying “More guns are the NRA’s answer”. Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA is a prophet because that is exactly what he said the media will exclaim is the distillation of his speech. The biased spin might have something to do with the fact that he insulted the media, saying their portrayal of violence as glamorous in movies, video games and pop culture, their wall to wall coverage of the shooter, granting a nobody fame and infamy is in some measure culpable for these types of attacks. There is no quicker way to get slammed by the media than by slamming the media.
For the record, I am not a member of the NRA. I don’t own anything that could be construed as an assault-style weapon, by anyone’s definition. Except maybe my tongue as I’ve been accused of using words as weapons to eviscerate, obliterate and destroy. Then again, I like to think that just like a well trained, responsible gun owner, I only aim my weapon of choice at those who are intent on doing me or mine harm.
I was fairly impressed with LaPierre’s speech, both for the obviously genuine passion he displayed as well as for his restraint. When the CodePink goofballs tried to derail his press conference, though visibly angry and shaking his head, he did not say a word or in any other way acknowledge the interruption. Class act.
You will be hearing various snipets of his speech over the next few days, and probably for a while longer as the national conversation on guns will be in the forefront for quite some time. However, even if like me you attempted to watch the speech live, you missed at least some of it as the talking heads had to interrupt and talk over what he was saying, explaining what he had just said. As soon as one of those empty hairstyles showed up on the screen, I flipped the channel, looking for some other networks’ coverage, hoping that new station selection also didn’t feel we aren’t smart enough to hear what a man has to say and understand it for ourselves. I ended up switching channels three times.
I have since read the full transcript of the speech, (linked here) so I can now say I know what the man said, and all of what the man said. There were a few points on which I didn’t agree, a few I thought were right on the money and more than a few I wish would become the basis for the needed, and hopefully rational, national conversation to come.
One of his first points, one that needs to be the opening for all future conversations is about our priorities as Americans. He talked about how we protect banks, airports, office buildings and even sports stadiums with guns, but not schools. The question here is what we as Americans value most. Judging from the above, we value children least. He is absolutely correct that the only thing crazier is to pass Gun-Free School Zone laws, advertising that the best place for a madman to inflict maximum damage with minimum resistance is in a school.
Another point that I and I’m sure most people are aware of is that there are already a lot of laws on the books restricting guns, others aimed at keeping them out of the hands of people that should not have them, and rules about where they can and cannot be kept, bought, used, displayed or carried. What surprised me was the actual number of these laws, which is 20,000 and counting. Think about it. We already have more than 20,000 laws on the books, but one more or any number of more laws are somehow, magically going to change things and make us all safe.
Something that seems to be conveniently forgotten which LaPierre pointed out is how President Obama zeroed out school emergency planning grants in last year’s budget and completely scrapped school policing grants in next year’s budget. That bears repeating and thinking about, so let’s put this in context. A plan was passed and budgeted for Federal emergency grants for schools, and the President zeroed it out. He left the grant in place, but allowed no money to fund it. The same was done for next year’s budget, but, the President is now calling for action on guns and school safety. Why now? Are these latest victims more important somehow than those of previous massacres?
If school safety is and always was so vital, as our President has said is his position, why wasn’t it important enough to fund the programs that have already been hammered out, agreed upon and placed on his desk? For me to take the President seriously on this issue, he will have to first go back and fund those programs; programs that would allow individual school districts to decide for themselves how best to protect their students, in accordance with the needs and desires of their communities. At the very least, he will have to come up with a good explanation of why he changed his position. Wayne LaPierre said a lot of things that were accurate, but none are more so than his statement that there is no one-size-fits-all answer that will work for every school, every district in the country. Communities need to do what they feel is best for their residents. Those programs the President axed were designed to do just that.
Of course, the question of how to fund these programs will be the first topic of conversation, the first objection, and in all probability, the first excuse for not having funded these and other programs like it in the past. In his speech, LaPierre rightly pointed to the billions of dollars we send to foreign countries in international aid as the prime source. These are monies we are borrowing from other countries; I’d rather borrow, if that is the only source that can be found, to protect our kids rather than use it to prop up governments and countries that hate us. Isn’t this a pretty message to send our kids.
“Yes, you are America’s future, but sending money to babies around the world is more important than ensuring you are safe in school. You’ll understand when you are older, that is if you don’t die at the hands of the next madman looking to make himself famous by committing an even more horrendous act.” Harsh? Maybe, but it also happens to be true. There are a lot of truths in all of this that aren’t very pretty.
The smartest thing the man did was to separate the conversation of gun control from that of school security. He called on Congress to act immediately, before we send our kids back to school in January, to do whatever is necessary to get armed professionals in every school in the country. Then we can have this conversation, this partisan, politically charged and what will surely prove to be nasty debate on what we can and should do about that pesky little issue called the 2nd Amendment.
There is one quote from this speech that I find incontrovertible, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. Whether you love or hate the NRA, there is no disputing that statement, nor is there any arguing against the fact that we will all be best served by separating the gun control and school safety conversations.
Filed under: Uncategorized