Last week’s Navy Yard shooting massacre highlights the need for tighter security at military bases, more attention to mental health care and better enforcement of criminal law, but doesn’t have anything to do with a need for stronger gun control, says National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre.
“The whole country … knows the problem is there wasn’t enough good guys with guns,” LaPierre said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “When the good guys with guns got there, it stopped.”
LaPierre accused “the elite media and the politicians” of drumming up outrage by tying the latest shooting spree to a push by some in Congress for tighter gun control laws. Instead, he argued, firearms had nothing to do with what happened.
The shooter, Aaron Alexis, killed 12 people and injured eight others after bringing a shotgun onto the military base and opening fire.
“The outrage ought to be placed on an unprotected naval base,” LaPierre said. “On a criminal justice system in Chicago that doesn’t even enforce the federal gun laws when we could dramatically cut violence. On a mental health system that is completely broken. On a [background] check system that is a complete joke in terms of stopping the bad guys.”
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe this week, Sen. Manchin (D-WV) fired a salvo in his escalating war with the NRA - or, as he tells it, the NRA’s Washington leadership.
Responding to an NRA attack ad that claimed he was ‘working with President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg’ and betraying his commitment to the 2nd Amendment by pushing forward with the now-defeated Manchin-Toomey bill that would have strengthened background checks on gun purchases, Manchin said “They’re trying to say I’ve changed, but I haven’t changed… the leadership of the NRA in Washington has changed. In 1999, background checks were good!”
It’s notable not just that Manchin seems sincere about enacting background checks in the wake of Newtown, but that he’s willing to fight back against the NRA in doing so. The NRA’s attack ad tells its members to phone Manchin’s office and complain about his “betrayal”; Manchin turns the tables in his ad, and asks NRA members to phone the NRA and complain about their lack of support for background checks.
Manchin is, above all else, a shrewd politician. He’s a Democrat who has managed to win by large margins, first as governor and then as senator, in an increasingly red West Virginia. If he’s made the calculation to call the NRA’s bluff and dare them to come after him, then he’s decided that they’re nothing more than a paper tiger at this point, full of bluster about their ability to bring down politicians who don’t follow their increasingly retrograde orthodoxy but without any ability to follow through. If Manchin demonstrates that he can spit in the teeth of the NRA and not suffer any damage, it may well embolden other, more timid Democrats who think they need to maintain an A-rating in order to keep their jobs.
It helps that Manchin isn’t facing re-election for a few years yet, of course. It’s easier to be brave when you aren’t in the heat of a campaign. But this election cycle could end up being the swan song for Wayne LaPierre’s brand of crazy as a truly scary political force. Between Bloomberg’s Independence USA super PAC hammering Democrats who tow the NRA line, and Manchin attempting to prove that there are no real consequences for defying them, the NRA may suddenly find that they can’t make Congress dance to their tune the way they used to.
Wishful thinking? Maybe. But if there’s going to be real movement towards a better, saner gun policy in this country it’s clearly going to have to happen over the NRA’s grave. Manchin’s an experienced hunter, but this is the most important hunt he’s ever been on. I wish him nothing but luck with this one.
The title pretty much says it all. Wayne LaPierre suggests that the Boston bombings and the subsequent manhunt are a prime example of why more citizens should be armed.
Just a few thoughts:
1) Was there any shortage of ‘good guys with guns’ in Boston at the time? (They’re called Police officers, Wayne).
2) Given the very vague and at times outright wrong descriptions we had of the suspects right until it was just about over (‘dark skinned male’ anyone?), any openly armed civilian during the bombings themselves or the manhunt could well have been shot by police or ended up shooting each other.
3) I’m pretty sure the innocent Saudi who was injured in the bombing and then ‘apprehended’ by fellow bystanders as a suspect is glad the people grabbing him weren’t armed…
It’s time for progressives to get out the popcorn.
CPAC is coming! Prepare your battleships, patriots. On March 14, the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference descends upon innocent Americans in order to spread the goodness of Dick Morris, movies sponsored by Citizens United and the liberty of fracking. Woo hoo!
But once again, there’s trouble in paradise, because once again, CPAC gave GOProud the boot. They invited Wayne La Pierre this year (along with Ralph Reed and conspiracy theorist Ben Shapiro) and last year, they had white supremacist John Derbyshire, but gays are too divisive.
Last year, GOPRoud was “kicked out” of CPAC because they are gay, according to GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia. The gay conservatives are told they can come as individual registrants this year, but no booth. No seat at the figurative and literal table. Why? Because the loudest voices in the conservative movement don’t want RINOs; aka, no compromising just for a big tent. So, gay Republicans, you’re out.
To wit, the twitter wars:
WASHINGTON — Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, adopted on Wednesday a significantly more ominous and expansive line of reasoning than he has before in order to make the case that newer, more dangerous threats require Americans to buy more guns, join the NRA and organize opposition to gun control measures.
“Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face — not just maybe,” LaPierre wrote in a commentary published by The Daily Caller, a conservative news site. “It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.”
“Tens of millions of Americans are already preparing to Stand And Fight to protect their families and homes,” LaPierre declared, but the threats are growing “during the second Obama term.”
In dramatic language, LaPierre wrote that “the American people clearly see the daunting forces we will undoubtedly face: terrorists, crime, drug gangs, the possibility of Euro-style debt riots, civil unrest or natural disaster. Gun owners are not buying firearms because they anticipate a confrontation with the government. Rather, we anticipate confrontations where the government isn’t there — or simply doesn’t show up in time.”
New York City in the wake of Hurricane Sandy was LaPierre’s prime example of just such a disaster: “After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.”
The facts, however, indicate the opposite was true. In the five days following Hurricane Sandy, there were no homicides at all in New York City — which is unusual, considering historical data.
Of course, attempts to equate gun control with fascism are bogus. But the “Hitler took the guns” argument has long had a prominent and fairly effective role in America’s gun control debate despite its obvious reductionism.
Its origins can be traced back to at least the early 1980s, when opponents of a Chicago proposal to ban handguns invoked it in the largely Jewish suburb of Skokie by “reminding village residents that the Nazis disarmed the Jews as a preliminary to sending them to the gas chambers,” the Chicago Tribune reported. In 1989, a new pro-gun group called Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership began arguing that the 1968 federal gun control bill once favored by the NRA’s old guard “was lifted, almost in its entirety, from Nazi legislation.” (That false claim is still being repeated.)
In 1994, JPFO founder Aaron Zelman implored the NRA’s board to seize on the alleged Nazi connection:
Some of you may even have figured out that unless the NRA changes its strategy, the law abiding firearm owner in America will go the way of the Jews in Nazi occupied Europe: extermination…The choice is yours; you can turn your back on a failed strategy—one of compromise with evil-doers—and attack the concept of “gun control” by exposing the Nazi roots of “gun-control” in America. Or, you can persist in a failed strategy, and accept your own extinction.
Whether or not the NRA was influenced by his advice, that same year its CEO, Wayne LaPierre, published Guns, Crime, and Freedom, in which he claimed, “In Germany, firearm registration helped lead to the holocaust,” leaving citizens “defenseless against tyranny and the wanton slaughter of a whole segment of its population.” The following year, President George H.W. Bush famously resigned from the NRA after LaPierre attacked federal law enforcement officials as “jack-booted government thugs” who wore “Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms.” More recently, Stephen Halbrook, a lawyer who has represented the NRA, argued (PDF) that “If the Nazi experience teaches anything, it teaches that totalitarian governments will attempt to disarm their subjects so as to extinguish any ability to resist crimes against humanity.”
Mass shootings have been increasing even as more NRA members are openly and concealed carrying and even while there are more legal guns on the street than ever before. Something must be wrong with Wayne LaPierre’s “Good guys with guns” hypothesis.
The gut-wrenching shock of the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14 wasn’t just due to the 20 unthinkably young victims. It was also due to the realization that this specific, painfully familiar nightmare was unfolding yet again.
As the scope of the massacre in Newtown became clear, some news accounts suggested that mass shootings in the United States have not increased, based on a broad definition of them. But in fact 2012 has been unprecedented for a particular kind of horror that’s been on the rise in recent years, from Virginia Tech to Tucson to Aurora to Oak Creek to Newtown. There have been at least 62 such mass shootings in the last three decades, attacks in which the killer took the lives of four or more people (the FBI’s baseline for mass murder) in a public place—a school, a workplace, a mall, a religious building. Seven of them have occurred this year alone.
Along with three other similar though less lethal rampages—at a Portland shopping mall, a Milwaukee spa, and a Cleveland high school—2012 has been the worst year for these events in modern US history, with 151 victims injured and killed. More than a quarter of them were young children and teenagers.
The National Rifle Association and its allies would have us believe that the solution to this epidemic, itself but a sliver of America’s overall gun violence, is to put firearms in the hands of as many citizens as possible. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” declared the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre in a press conference a week after Newtown, the same day bells tolled at the National Cathedral and the devastated town mourned its 28 dead. (That day a gunman in Pennsylvania also murdered three people and wounded a state trooper shortly before LaPierre gave his remarks.) LaPierre explained that it was a travesty for a school principal to face evil unarmed, and he called for gun-wielding security officers to be deployed in every school in America.
As many commentators noted, it was particularly callous of the NRA to double down on its long-standing proposal to fight gun violence with more guns while parents in Newtown were burying their first graders.
Earlier this week I suggested that America’s gun owners have often been let down by the leadership of the gun-rights movement. I don’t know if that has ever been more obvious than it is today.
The press conference - well, a statement really, since there were no questions permitted - held by the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre is quite extraordinary. Reading the transcript I thought at first that it must be a parody written by gun-control activists determined to discredit the National Rifle Association. Turns out there’s no need to attempt that, not when the NRA is prepared to do the job itself.
I don’t know if I can recall a performance quite as stupid, bone-headed, ill-judged, morally obtuse, tone-deaf, politically obnoxious and emotionally unintelligent as this. Heckuva job, NRA.