The NRA responds to Newtown

*More updates at the bottom.

Stop whatever you’re doing and go read the transcript from today’s NRA press conference. Here’s the beginning (emphasis mine, obviously):

LAPIERRE: Because for all the noise and anger directed at us over the past week, no one, nobody has addressed the most important, pressing and immediate question we face: How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?

The only way to answer that question is to face the truth. Politicians pass laws for gun free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And, in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.

How have our nation’s priorities gotten so far out of order. Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, court houses, even sports stadiums are all protected by armed security.

LAPIERRE: We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers. Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it, and exploit it.

That must change now. The truth is…

PROTESTER: (inaudible) stop killing our children. It’s the NRA and — the assault weapons that are killing our children, not (inaudible) teacher. We’ve got to end (inaudible). We’ve got to end the violence. We’ve got to stop the killers, stop the killing our children, stop killing our (inaudible) stop killing in our streets.

Via @Jordanfabian here is a picture of the protestor in action:

A-pqw6UCUAAXBvH.jpg-large

Any other day and that might have been the extent of the fireworks, but I assure you the greatest damage was self-inflicted:

How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark.

A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill? The fact is this: That wouldn’t even begin to address the much larger, more lethal criminal class — killers, robbers, rapists, gang members who have spread like cancer in every community across our nation.

Meanwhile, while that happens, federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 40 percent, to the lowest levels in a decade. So now, due to a declined willingness to prosecute dangerous criminals, violent crime is increasing again for the first time in 19 years. Add another hurricane, terrorist attack, or some other natural of manmade disaster, and you’ve got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization.

So far we have — as a source of blame — a lack of guns in schools (btw, did you know Columbine had an armed guard?) and a lack of a “national database of the mentally ill.” Yeah, what he said:

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 1.31.05 PM

#NRA is a trending topic right now, of course. It gets better:

“And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal. There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people….vicious, violent video games [and] blood-soaked films out there, like ‘American Psycho,’ ‘Natural Born Killers.’ They’re aired like propaganda loops on Splatterdays and every single day.”

[…] We can’t lose precious time debating legislation that won’t work.

There are others at the link above. In the beginning Wayne LaPierre cited (as well as decried) the politicization of the Newtown shootings as explanation for the NRA’s immediate silence. Of course when people talk about politicizing events they’re really describing a natural response to shocking phenomenon — namely, “Why did this happen?” and “What can we do about it?” So now we have the gun advocates’ politici…I mean, ‘response’ to those questions; more guns, more censorship, more virtual and pretend gun control, government tracking of the mentally ill, and less debate. Sigh. Keep in mind that the NRA had roughly seven days to construct this message. Seven days.

PS: Oh, yeah. During the press conference, sadly, there was a mass shooting in Pennsylvania.

Updates (all emphasis mine):

  • Josh Barro on the suggestion to “airportize” our schools with armed guards (or teachers):

Even if the armed personnel aren’t educators, a more visible security presence will make schools feel more like airports. It’s bad enough that airports are like airports. We should find approaches to combating violence that don’t send the message that school is a scary place where you need a cadre of men with guns to protect you — because that’s just not true.

Above all, of course, there was the utter absence of any gesture toward the sort of new regulation that could mitigate if not prevent future Newtowns, and that many, many gun owners would be glad to support, whether it’s limits on military-style rifles, expanded magazine clips, or closing of the gunshow loophole and other blatant gaps in existing requirements for background checks to make sure guns don’t end up in the wrong hands. This was profoundly startling to those of us who have become used to lobbies and special interests adept at playing the game of public relations and tactical compromise—heck, even Wall Street was willing to accept some new restraints on its behavior post–financial crash.

But the gun lobby has carried on unchallenged for so long now that such instincts must seem completely foreign and unnecessary to it, leaving it looking hopelessly clueless and callous when the moment screams out for such gestures. This is, in part, a product of the bubble mindset that takes hold anytime a subculture drifts from the mainstream, as is so plainly happening with gun enthusiasts in this country.

  • Elspeth Reeve notices that LaPierre’s sentiments are essentially internet memes:

If you were baffled or shocked by the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre calling for more guns in schools at his riveting post-Newtown press conference, odds are it’s because you don’t speak LaPierre’s language. The assertions by the gun lobby’s executive vice president shocked even some conservatives, but among real gun nuts, they were surely very familiar. In fact, almost line-by-line, what LaPierre said in Washington on Friday was posted all over Facebook by anonymous gun lovers over the course of the last week.

LaPierre: “Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones. They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

The gun Internet:

  • Brad Plumer looks at the idea of security guards in every school:

4) It’s unclear what effect armed guards would have on school shootings or other types of violence.

It seems intuitive that having better security at school would stop shootings, but there isn’t a lot of good research on this. One 2009 study found that schools with “resource officers” — security officials, though not necessarily armed — did report less criminal activity. But the paper lamented that there’s little evidence on the effectiveness of security measures like surveillance cameras, metal detectors, or armed guards.

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