Monday, January 7, 2013

Delusions of (Armed) Grandeur

A couple weeks ago—on this very internet!—I opined that James Dobson, founder of old-timey-values group Focus On The Family, was using the tragedy in Newtown, CT,  to further his old-timey agenda. A few days after Dobson's remarks, and a full week after Adam Lanza's murderous rampage, the National Rifle Association finally emerged from its bunker of silence to fire off a barrage of wild comments of its own in response to the massacre. I was interested to learn that the NRA actually agreed with my assessment of Dobson's crass behavior—here's the NRA's Wayne LaPierre, explaining that it's disrespectful to respond to a tragedy with self-promotion. (By the way, if you've ever wondered what it would be like to listen to Droopy Dog reciting the phonebook, a minute of this will give you a pretty good idea.)


"Out of respect for the families and until the facts are known, the NRA has refrained from comment. While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectably silent. Now, we must speak for the safety of our nation’s children."

He makes an important distinction: it's okay to use a tragedy to promote your screwy worldview, but only after a seven day waiting period.

By the way, after sitting through just a couple minutes of that half-hour speech I was already starting to feel the calcification of my blood in my veins, so I switched over to this transcript, which I was able to get through faster than you could field-strip a handgun. Anyway, Mr. LaPierre finally gets around to a discussion of gun control—or more accurately, he side-steps gun control and instead detours into the realm of fantasy:

"Now, I can imagine the headlines, the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow. “More guns,” you’ll claim, “are the NRA’s answer to everything.” Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools."

Many people are indeed calling for a ban on the kinds of assault weapons used in mass killings of innocent civilians, but in the paranoid world of the NRA, a restriction on any gun is the same as ATF agents storming your compound with tanks and prying every last gun from your hands (which are presumably cold and dead, of course). Mr. LaPierre is incapable of recognizing differences between bans of different types of guns, though he has no trouble with the nuances of the guns themselves.

The media calls semi-automatic fire arms, machine guns. They claim these civilian semi-automatic fire arms are used by the military. They tell us that the .223 is one of the most powerful rifle calibers, when all of these claims are factually untrue, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

What idiots the media are! Things are much safer than the news would have you believe, because the weapons that are killing our children are not, in fact, of military caliber! So everything's okay, right? Well, no: LaPierre explains that our society is incredibly dangerous—on account of all the psychopaths running around with assault weapons that can be purchased with ease at Walmart—and declares that we must immediately deploy armed guards everywhere to defend against this uncontrolled menace.

The truth is, that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters. People that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons, that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them. 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 at this very moment? . . . The only waythe only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

I suppose this makes some sense—if your worldview is dominated by a love of firepower, then naturally your problem solving strategies will tend towards weaponization. LaPierre is like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, who fantasizes about the day when a bunch of masked bandits will come climbing over the fence so he can shoot them all with his Red Rider BB Gun.

Only LaPierre is not ten years old.

Still, there may be something to that kind of reasoning. For instance, instead of instituting leash laws that strip dogs of their freedom, municipalities could just encourage citizens to carry machetes to defend against all the vicious roaming dogs. Everybody wins!

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