When the NRA announced early last week that they would offer a "meaningful contribution" to the national discussion after the tragedy in Newtown, I believed them. Surely they would see that making it harder for someone like Adam Lanza to obtain lethal weapons was not a threat to the Second Amendment rights of others. Nobody was talking about ending the rights of hunters or of people to defend their homes--we just didn't want mentally troubled people to walk around packing heat.
Alas. Friday's press conference offered no positive suggestions. Instead the NRA's Wayne LaPierre blamed everything except the easy availability of guns for the tragedy in Newtown. Violent video games? Check. A media that enables such violent video games to proliferate? Double check. Too much foreign aid in the federal budget, so that armed guards can't patrol every school in America? Triple check. And why should the President have the Secret Service while little Susie gets no protection at all? Quadruple check, home run. The full speech is here; the italics indicate whenever LaPierre pitched his voice in righteous outrage.
All of this led to a proposal for a National School Shield program, which would offer an armed guard and security tips to every school that wants it. Funds would come from Congress, presumably from that evil foreign aid budget. LaPierre called for the funding to happen by the beginning of January. After all, the children's lives are at stake.
The obvious beneficiaries of the National School Shield Program are gun companies and security businesses. It's not at all clear that armed guards would make schools more safe. In 1999, there was an armed guard at Columbine High School who missed the shooters four times, after which point many more students died.
As Columbine shows, we've had armed guards at schools for a while in this country. To some extent the NRA's proposal--albeit done in an opportunistic and obnoxious way--was just calling for more of the same. It was easy to overlook this in the immediate aftermath of LaPierre's speech.
For the truth is that guns are part of American life and always will be, however mystifying this fact. LaPierre's defense of guns was entirely predictable, as was the outrage he faced afterward from commentators in coastal enclaves. That said, I was blown away by the shamelessness of his obfuscation and misdirection. The NRA continues to abuse the Second Amendment, as part of an endless strategy to militarize America whether we want to live this way or not. Their core interest is in ginning up gun sales, and the children of Newtown have provided a grisly means to do so. We can't let them prevail.