Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Yesterday's Speech by NRA VP Wayne LaPierre Was Kinda Unnecessary, Right?

I don't know if anyone really was expecting all that much out of the "press conference" that the NRA put on yesterday (at which press were invited, but not to ask any questions), and if you weren't expecting much, well, you got what you expected, for sure. The whole text of the "blame anything but guns" message is here. Some old friends, like violent movies and video games were blamed (is it really possible that Nintendo's Tetris explains my uncontrollable urge to stack things?), the mentally ill were demonized as being evil and in need of being registered (seriously--stigmatizing illness in a way that would deter people from trying to get treatment?) and the idea of putting armed guards in every school were trotted out. And we've heard all those things before from the NRA, so no one is actually (or rather, no one should be) shocked at the content, so much as the timing and the opportunism of seeking attention to get their message out in quite this awkward way.

I think the drop-jaw moment is really recognizing that this stuff sounds natural to them, sounds natural from them, and in light of the kinds of tragedies we've seen too often, from Columbine to Newtown, that this is still their message. The bullshit labs of the NRA have cooked up no new bullshit. They have developed no new flavor for their bullshit. The answer to gun violence has always been "more gun violence", and the magical thinking has always obtained that if someone firing on innocent (children, shoppers, church-goers) human beings isn't to your liking, let's just have crossfire, because, as the movies tell us, bullets from "good guy" weapons have a special "bad guy" killing power. they don't hurt friendlies, and good guys never die.

And except for it not being in any respects true, there are some people who will buy it. They buy it because the NRA is a gun lobby. They are there to protect the interests of gun-sellers, first and foremost, even if they've convinced the gun-buyers that they they exist to serve their God-and-Constitution-given right to carry any weapon, number of weapons, any size or quality of weapon, their little hearts desire.

And they do--that includes Adam Lanza's right. Jared Loughner's right. Harris and Klebold's rights. Their rights to get their hands on the weapons they used, and to be on the paranoid mind of the discriminating gun-buyer who has made his home an armed madhouse, and doesn't really see why schools shouldn't be the same. Or malls. Or churches. Or anywhere else ever.

And yet wasn't Mortal Kombat and Heathers that inspired Columbine or Natural Born Killers and Bullet Storm that made the Newtown massacre happen, anymore than the heavy metal music of the '80's made my whole generation suicidal satanists. It was damaged individuals with motives that are complicated, and opportunities that begin and end with access to the tools of mass killing. A serious conversation about these events that doesn't look at the means is missing the point. And yet the NRA and LaPierre desperately pleaded with their audience to look everywhere else.

Does it draw attention, now, finally, to what the NRA has been doing? How their messaging encourages gun culture? Do we get their cynicism in criticizing the media for "sensationalizing gun violence" when they profit from that sensationalization--when their criticism genuinely only lies with those in the media who are doing it wrong? It would be about time if the NRA was called out for being little more than salesmen for nothing more than more guns, at the expense of any one's right to live in a world where even the places where children learn and play are not combat zones.

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