Along with many Americans, I wondered what the NRA was going to say yesterday in response to the Newtown massacre. In what I thought was a shrewd move, the NRA was unusually quiet this week, including shutting down their social media presence. I’m not sure if they did it out of respect for the victims, or wanted to develop a strategy to salvage their relevance and credibility with much of the American public. Given their statement yesterday, I think they developed their ideas in a boardroom while drinking whiskey and playing the Call of Duty Black Ops II video game (They likely wouldn’t have played their own NRA sport shooting video game that was roundly panned a few years ago).
Now before some of the diehard NRA wing nuts jump down my throat, please understand that I am not in favor of eliminating law abiding citizens from owning guns. I own a shotgun and a revolver. The handgun is an old Colt 38 Special that was my great-grandfather’s service weapon when he was the Marshal of the City of Ruston, Washington. I have a newspaper article from the early 1900’s where he used this weapon in a gun battle with a burglar (the burglar lost). I enjoy target shooting and bird hunting. I am envious of my friends who have beautiful gun collections, and consider many of them beautiful works of art.
With that said, I’m blown away by the NRA’s myopic and inflammatory statements yesterday. My interpretation of what they said is; this incident was caused by;
- Extremely violent video games
- Reluctance to prosecute gun crime cases
- Gun free school zones
- No one in the school was armed to fight back
Their approach? Make a very public and inflammatory demand to place armed police officers in every school. OK… which schools? Public? Private? Daycare? Tribal? What about all of the other public gathering areas that have experienced mass shootings, like malls and movie theatres? What about the economic reality where federal, state and local law enforcement officers and programs are being slashed? What about the fact that a school resource officer engaged the shooters at the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, and was significantly outgunned (An officer with a sidearm is no match for someone intent on mayhem with a high powered/capacity assault rifle). I’m guessing their myopic approach is going to come back to haunt them. I’m not a card carrying member of the NRA, but if I was I would have dropped it before their press conference was over. The current NRA leadership is nuts (or they were really drunk when they came out of the boardroom).
It now appears that the Newtown murderer had significant mental health and social issues. We may never know what made him snap, steal his mother’s guns, and kill everyone he encountered in a very short amount of time. Where does the NRA stand on helping those with significant mental health issues?
When the New York City Police Commissioner expresses disappointment in the NRA’s stance (and yet says he is not surprised), you have to wonder; What the hell were they thinking? Why didn’t they simply express outrage at the tragedy, call for increased dialogue and action to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those with mental health issues, call for increased support and funding for families struggling with the mentally ill, and offer to aggressively participate in a national dialogue on how best to proceed? Instead, they came out swinging defensively, looking and sounding desperate and totally out of touch with America’s growing concern about gun violence, especially the horrific violence that occurs in 2-3 minutes by a deranged kid with a high caliber semi-auto rifle with a 30 shot magazine. What is revolting is they took this approach before the last of the victims had been buried.
The NRA leadership may have just flailed their organization into irrelevance. Let’s hope the majority of NRA members have a more realistic view of the need to take positive and realistic steps to prevent these type of events from happening again. The victims and families in Newtown and all of the past mass killing tragedies deserve nothing less.