The National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre walks off after making a statement during a news conference in response to the Connecticut school shooting on Friday, December 21, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
I fully expected the National Rifle Association to hold a press conference this morning that would help blunt the momentum for gun control legislation now building in Washington: to solemnly pay tribute to those lost at Sandy Hook; to pledge to work with all sides to stop this from happening again while subtly trying to shift the conversation more towards mental health issues and, heck, maybe video games too. It would make the NRA seem reasonable, and concerned, and give hesitant members of Congress some comfort in sticking to the NRA line.
Instead, NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre unloaded a thirty-round magazine of crazy. He bizarrely called for a national database of the mentally ill, bashed decade-old video games that nobody plays anymore and invoked the spectre of a lawless America after a hurricane or “man-made disaster,” in which every citizen would need a gun to defend him or herself. (This is, incidentally, not unlike the mindset that reportedly led Nancy Lanza to stockpile weapons in her home.)
He then came out with the official NRA proposal: to put armed guards in every school in America. By January. (Really, that’s the proposal. It’s called the National School Shield Emergency Response Program. You ought to watch the whole thing.)
LaPierre tapped Asa Hutchison, an adviser to Blackwater and SAIC, to lead this new militarization of schools. And he did it all while both invoking the memory of those who died at Sandy Hook and subtly blaming them for being unable to stop the massacre, because they weren’t carrying guns:
As brave, heroic and self-sacrificing as those teachers were in those classrooms, and as prompt, professional and well-trained as those police were when they responded, they were unable—through no fault of their own—to stop it. […]
If we truly cherish our kids more than our money or our celebrities, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible and the security that is only available with a properly trained—armed—good guy. Under Asa’s leadership, our team of security experts will make this the best program in the world for protecting our children at school, and we will make that program available to every school in America free of charge.
LaPierre himself knows this is going to be seen as crazy—he said so in the press conference:
Now, I can imagine the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow morning: ‘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. But since when did the word ‘gun’ automatically become a bad word?”