Friday, 21 December 2012

Questions for the NRA guy

The NRA spokesman went on TV today to talk about Connecticut. As far as he’s concerned, Sandy Hook is the fault of everybody except the gun lobby: video games, gun-control advocates, shameless Democrats exploiting tragedy, movies, music, the media, and Obama. And he insisted that the answer to Sandy Hook is to put guns in schools.

They called this appearance a press conference, but the NRA guy, Wayne LaPierre, ran off without taking any questions. Here are the questions I would have asked.  

First, Mister LaPierre, as Daily Kos pointed out, the NRA Board of Directors includes Ted Nugent, Oliver North, John Bolton, Grover Norquist, Chuck Norris, and Larry Craig the pedophile bathroom stalker. These are the guys you chose to be the well-scrubbed reassuring public face of your group, and even these guys are people with a track record of saying and doing things that are batshit crazy. They openly hate blacks, women, gays, immigrants, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, environmentalists. In other words, the loony wing of the GOP. And overwhelmingly white and male (just like a lot of our mass shooters). If you’re pushing to retain your rights to all these weapons and even add bigger and more destructive guns, don’t you think you should try a little harder to hide the fact that even your leaders are mentally unbalanced and that you hate the rest of us with the heat of a thousand suns? The confluence of crazy GOP politics, hate, guns, and mental instability makes us a little nervous.

Next, one of your board members is Ronnie Barrett, who developed a 50-caliber rifle that can pierce police armor and shoot down aircraft. It’s the perfect tool for terrorists, and we know this because the Branch Davidians used this fire power in the Waco siege, to such effect that even the army’s Bradley fighting vehicles didn’t have enough armor to withstand it. Has it occurred to you, that you people are the greatest possible friend for terrorists who want to attack us without worrying about law enforcement? Imagine terrorists sitting alongside a dozen U.S. airport runways with these weapons.

Next, do you realize that your membership overall is becoming even more unstable? More and more, guns are being concentrated in the hands of crazy people. Overall, the number of homes with guns in them has dropped shockingly, from 54 percent of U.S. homes to only 32. But the number of guns overall is spiking upward, because the shrinking number of gun nuts are buying more and more guns, because they are more and more paranoid. Statistically, the typical gun owner is white, over 50, a rural southern conservative Republican, who has a high school diploma at best, and who doesn’t make much money – but is spending thousands and thousands of dollars he doesn’t really have, to load up on racks and racks of guns. Apocalypse preppers, men who await the rapture, outright paranoids, secessionists, lone wolves, self-appointed militiamen, people who don’t fit in with today’s America, or who refuse to try. Angry, frightened, alienated, listening less to the voices of reason and listening more to each other, or to the voices in their heads, or to Rush.  And when the Sandy Hook tragedy happened – something they helped create – they reacted by buying even more guns. A Death Spiral of Fear. And even when guns aren’t involved, there’s trouble—like the guy who watched a bunch of anti-Muslim stuff on Fox News and then drank a load of beer and burned down a mosque. Does this growing armed-and-crazy dynamic bother you at all?

Next, what is the NRA going to do further down the road? Your core of crazy angry old white guys is going to age off the system. The number of people who agree with your whackaloon beliefs is dropping. Eventually the GOP will return to sanity and they will be less reliable as your ally. The Democratic party, sick of being used as a punching bag, is growing some cojones, and in four years you won’t be able to use the scary black President to round up new recruits. America has tried things your way, with few gun controls, and we’re losing 80 dead per day – the national backlash is already underway. And your contemptible effort to recruit children is facing a backlash too, after Sandy Hook. So how are you going to survive the next few decades?

Next, you keep quoting the Constitution, but have you actually read it, and do you know how it was written? After the Revolutionary War, the Founding Fathers decided that rather than keep the Continental Army, they would disband it and just rely on state militias. Shortly thereafter they wrote the Second Amendment, allowing those state militias to keep their muskets, but decreeing elsewhere in the Constitution, Article 2 Section 2, that this distinction only belonged to actual state militias which take orders from the President. Guns rights weren’t intended for everybody, gun rights weren’t for nonmilitary purposes such as hunting (and people don’t really hunt for their dinners anymore anyway), and it wasn’t intended as a blank check to acquire any weapon you wanted (i.e. John Adams didn’t have a cannon on his front lawn). The founders did not embrace your notion that guns in the hands of common men keep America free: they insisted that guns in the hands of properly-led professionals keep America free. The founders had a deep mistrust of the common man, expressed over and over in the Federalist Papers: that’s why, elsewhere in the Constitution, they put many filters between the people and political power, refusing to pass laws by referenda, using the Senate to prevent popular sentiment from leading to foolish legislation, and protecting unpopular minority views from being trampled by the mob. The founders did NOT want to rely on the man on the street to protect freedom. So…as we discuss the Second Amendment ad nauseam, can we talk about the rest of the history too?

Next, can you explain why states with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence, and why countries with gun controls don’t kill 80 people a day like we do? Since you keep asserting that guns keep people safe.

Next. can you start getting serious about gun locks? For every time a gun is used in the home for a legally justifiable shooting or self-defense, there are 22 incidents of homicides, attempted suicides, assaults and accidental shootings. So when you buy that gun, the odds are it will be used on your or your kids, not some boogeyman. So can we start locking up our guns? Or better yet, not keep them in the home at all?

Next, you complained today that we need guns for protection because federal prosecutions for gun crimes have dropped by 40 percent. Um, isn’t that because your Republican pals have used legislation to gut ATF? Maybe we won’t need to sling lead at criminals ourselves, if the people who are actually trained to do that have proper funding and support?

Next, can we dispense with the pledges and oaths? Our members of Congress swear a very clear oath:

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

In other words, our representatives swear to uphold their Constitutional duties, without any reservations or asterisks regarding any other oath they swore to. But you guys keep making them swear other oaths too: you make them promise to stop anyone from even talking about gun laws. Your board member Grover Norquist made a whole army of politicians swear an oath never to raise any taxes, regardless of the financial situation. Your pals in the Club For Growth swore in a bunch of hard-core tea-party politicians too, and ruthlessly exterminated any politician who defied their demand for political purity. So we have a whole lot of our elected officials, who aren’t working for the American people, to whom they are sworn. You guys are forcing them to ignore or violate their oath of office. So, someday when you’ve wreaked enough damage on the country, can we have our congressmen back? Can we have our democracy back? It would be nice.

And finally, Mister LaPierre, speaking of mental illness -- do you still believe that policemen are jackbooted thugs, that Bill Clinton deliberately fostered violence so he could ban your guns, that the UN will take your guns, and that Obama has spent a lifetime undermining gun rights and is still plotting to take your guns and “all is lost” if he wins? Have you talked to a professional about paranoid personality disorder? They make breakthroughs in medication and therapy every year. We can help you!

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