Category Archives: the NRA

Is a Crazy Man Defending Guns in America?

 
 

Whenever I think about the absolute inflexibility of a man like Wayne La Pierre and his psychotic belief that it is his duty and his alone to decide exactly what the Second Amendment means; whenever I watch him as he makes his stand as a pathologically insane bulwark against any attempt the majority of American citizens want to make in terms of passing common sense gun control laws in America, I get the same incredulous anger that I get when I listen to Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and almost anyone on FOX TV. La Pierre professes a special sensitivity to any move the American government might take towards absolutism or imagine absolutism. Paradoxically this unbending man wields absolute control over gun laws in this nation at the current moment.

Personally, I find Wayne La Pierre frightening and possibly mentally ill, with, perhaps some form of megalomania. How can one man act so scary that no one will challenge him? Obviously, he must have some very powerful allies, like the entire right wing and half of the left wing, and several loony movie stars. But it is his steely will that seems to hold the whole apparatus together.

Mr. La Pierre, according to Wikipedia, earned a BA in Education from Siena College and an MA in Government from Boston University. He joined the NRA in 1977 and was a legislative aide to a Democratic Virginia delegate, Vic Thomas. He became the CEO and executive vice president of the NRA in 1991. The most recent information says that he is paid a salary of just under $1 million a year. The prospect of losing such a salary might convince many of us to be rabid supporters of whatever we had to pledge allegiance to.

If that sixth sense of yours is not telling you that Wayne La Pierre is nutty, then perhaps listening to some of the things he has had to say will help.

Just before the attack on the Federal Building in Oklahoma Wayne La Pierre, was speaking about federal agents. La Pierre called them “jack-booted government thugs” in “Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms”. These comments so outraged George H.W. Bush that he resigned his NRA membership.

He also likes to say that “President Clinton tolerated a certain amount of violence and killing to strengthen the case for gun controls and to score points for his party.” (A little conspiracy theory, anyone?)

And we all remember what this prince of compassion said at Sandy Hook, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Not much comfort to grieving parents there.

Not a whole lot of sanity there, either.

His list of possible contributors to mass shooting is actually a pretty good one, except that the role of guns is noticeably missing from his list, and except for the first item on the list which just solidifies the crazy. Here are the items on his list: 1) gun-free zones 2) violent films 3) video games 4) the media 5) weak data bases on mental illness 6) lax security. For Wayne La Pierre guns are the answer to everything, but even in the Godfatherthere was that one piece of advice about what to pack for vacations, “leave the guns, take the canoli”.

Mr. La Pierre is implacable, powerful and probably somewhere off the deep end. At least he doesn’t live in Texas. However he does live in Roanoke, Virginia near where the most recent shooter bought his handgun only a few days before he gunned down normal working people at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. (Back to Sheldon Cooper – Did Wayne Pierre’s mother have him tested to see if he was crazy? I doubt it) If he does have mental problems he would be unlikely to be treated for them by our current health care system anyway. While I believe in individual rights, this era of self-identification and self-medication for mental issues is not working very well. I don’t have a solution except we need to keep investigating how the brain functions and finding more targeted medications, like the genome treatments for cancer.

I could not find the quotes, but I am absolutely certain (because I heard them) that those other right wing crazies of the air waves (Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh) have been injecting Second Amendment paranoia into their rants for years and have been feeding people’s fears that the lefties (who they always equate with Hitler for that extra little frission of fear that this produces) want to take their guns away and leave them helpless against an increasingly tyrannical government. They can’t be saying these things just to get ratings. They must have at least a modicum of belief that these things are real. Thus it comes full circle; warned by the nuts of the right wing media (wingnuts) the brainwashed people raise their voices to protest losing their guns, which they should give up gladly (the semi automatic ones at least) in order to make the shooting gallery that America is becoming less efficient and therefore less deadly, or even just so children aren’t targets.

Although it is clear that we will have to deal with some of the other things on Mr. La Pierre’s list, gun control definitely belongs on that list and should have been included. Doesn’t Wayne La Pierre seem crazy to anyone but me and the New York Post? How about his cohorts? Surely the world is laughing at the land of the free where the will of the people is being stopped in its tracks by one old man.

Taking a Scientific Approach to Mass Shootings

This is America. When we pass a law it does not have to be the law forever. If laws are ineffective they can be overturned later. We have a national problem. Public places in America are being turned into shooting galleries. Twenty beautiful children sitting in their elementary school classrooms were shot to death by either a madman or a poor troubled soul, whichever way you chose to look at it. Teachers and staff who expected an ordinary day of teaching children had to block bullets with their bodies. Isn’t it worth it to pass a few laws that try to address these problems?

It will cause some chaos if we ban assault weapons. People will have to part with treasured guns, they will have to tamp down fears that the American government will become tyrannical, and they may have to pursue a hobby they enjoy with slightly less freedom. Perhaps shooting clubs could store people’s assault rifles in locked spaces. There must be a solution that will allow people to possess their rifles without keeping them in their homes.

I also get the argument the NRA makes that criminals do not get guns through legal channels. I feel their fear that honest Americans without guns will be at the mercy of criminals with guns. Of course, I feel I must point out that we already are in that situation. I feel that I must also point out that on this point gun owners are exaggerating their feelings to spin their argument. They will still have handguns with which to defend themselves after all. And the longer a ban on assault rifles and multiple shot clips goes on the harder it will be for even criminals to access these weapons. Every time one is used in a crime it will. I assume, be taken off the streets and out of circulation.

Let’s talk about TV, movies and video games for a minute. If we are talking about children with good social skills these activities probably don’t lead to violent fantasies or scripts. These reality-based children understand that they are watching TV, or viewing a movie, or playing a game. But for children with poor social skills, children whose self esteem may be low, children who may feel frustrated and angry much of the time video games especially, may be the movie they run in their head when they are angry. I don’t mean to be flippant about this very serious issue, but it is sort of like when Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theorytries to blow people up with his mind. I don’t think these children, who can get a large ego boost from high scores in a game where they shoot imaginary people, are putting their anger into a red balloon and floating it away. I’m guessing that they imagine picking people off when they get angry. Teaching them to shoot a real gun with this particular movie script running in their heads when they are at their most irrational could not be a good thing.

We have to try something. Let’s try an assault gun ban again. Let’s try getting rid of most multiple clips. Let’s try it for five years or ten years. Let’s keep data on it to determine if it makes a difference. If studies done by neutral groups show no significant effect then we can overturn the laws. Let’s try throwing some more money at mental health issues and let the mental health community tell us what they believe we should try to be able to identify shooters before they go ballistic and how we can do this without stigmatizing those who know how to keep their mental issues under control and who consistently use those therapies. Again we can consider it a social experiment in which we study and tweak the approaches until they are effective at identifying those who need help and are not getting it, or until we determine that we will never be able to filter out individuals who might plot some kind of personal vengeance. We can even try armed guards at schools to see it that helps.

It is sad to see some of the nation’s gun owners acting just like these socially challenged shooters, with their threatening language and their fearful beliefs. They seem irrational and paranoid. These are adult Americans. They should be in a partnership with all of America to see if we can find a solution to this modern aberration; a solution that does not just involve arming America to the teeth. They should be honestly trying to study this along with us to see what will work. This would be the logical path to helping all Americans be more comfortable with legal gun owners. We are already beset by craziness. We need our adults, gun owners or not, to act very, very sane.

Pass the gun laws. Make sure we study the effects of the gun laws. Pass the mental health measure. Make sure we understand the strategies the mental health industry will employ and that we study their effects also. Let’s try to identify children who lack social skills. Let’s try to find out why they are missing these skills. Let’s develop strategies to help children improve their social skills. If parents are over-protective of children with mental or social difficulties let’s develop strategies for intervention. Let’s please try these measures for a time, discard them if they don’t work, and try new measures until we get it right. And let’s come up with some creative video games that offer the same ego boost as shooting games but have a more positive goal than racking up body counts.

The NRA-How Disappointing, How Predictable

Before we heard the NRA leadership speak up on Friday it sounded as if they were humbled by the events in Newtown, CT but when they spoke on television in that very odd media event, on the last day in the Mayan calendar, they were not in the least apologetic. Now I understand why guys like to use the phrase “double down” so much because that is exactly what the NRA did. “The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” they said. I am not sure this would past the tests of logic, or that if a Venn drawing were made of this statement, it would be at all accurate. Let me just mention two possibilities that are not considered in this tautology: 1) if the gun was not available in the first place the bad guy would not have the gun, and, 2) If the bad guy happened to be a mentally ill young person mental health intervention might prevent the act of desperation. The media is reminding us that there was an armed guard at Columbine and he was unable to stop the killers.

The NRA recommended a National Shield Program for schools which would place a security guard with a gun in every school. They showed no interest in limiting the kinds of guns available to citizens or limiting the availability of clips containing large numbers of bullets. They insist that we need these guns to keep our government honest and to dissolve our government should it become necessary. That certainly is the intent of the Constitution, although after seeing some of the radical ideas held by some of my fellow Americans I fear that it would be possible for a small minority to cause an inordinate amount of grief if they so chose, and it seems possible that they could so choose at any moment. Our country is a lot bigger than it was when the Constitution was written, with a much larger population and more lethal weapons.

The NRA made a scathing argument against violent video games, music, and movies without so much as one consideration for another Constitutional guarantee which is often cited by those who create these kinds of items, a guarantee known as the Freedom of Speech amendment which is every bit as difficult to like when it is used to protect things we don’t like or which we don’t think are healthy influences in our society.

I do not believe that we are free to harm each other. We hold to the ideals of the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, not just for some. Even in a free society freedom is not absolute. When we own a house we are admonished that we hold it for purposes of quiet enjoyment. We are always asked to be mindful of our neighbors. No one is suggesting banning all guns. Hunters and gun enthusiasts will be able to possess their guns as long as they are responsible and keep their guns safe. Limiting guns that fire large multiples of bullets without reloading seems perfectly reasonable but not when you propose it to a group of people who are anything but reasonable.

The NRA must believe that they alone know how to read the Constitution, that they have a direct line to the forefathers because they defend all gun ownership with belligerent inflexibility. If they need guns to defend themselves in the event that our government turns totalitarian then why not just bury a cache in the backyard and be done with it. Twenty, six and seven year old children died, hundreds of children have been traumatized by witnessing these incomprehensible assassinations.

Who does the NRA remind me of? They remind me of the Republicans who refuse to raise any taxes. By refusing to bend they have a control over the American dialogue about guns which is totalitarian in nature and contrary to the very freedom they say they are trying to protect. The NRA is as extreme and out-of-control as those extremists in the Republican Party and they raise my hackles in exactly the same way. I just can’t listen to them without getting angry because I know that they do not want a dialogue about anything. They just want to have their way. The oxymoron inherent in this authoritarian approach to freedom should be obvious to everyone. And yet, in spite of everything I think I know about the NRA and despite how important I feel it is to end their control of America’s gun discussion, I bet we will find that we cannot budge this group of extremists and that is a sad state of affairs. I hope this impasse will someday be breached.