Commentary: At Last, the NRA Speaks and Its Voice Is a Misguided One

In the aftermath of school murders, NRA executive Wayne LaPierre gave a defense of gun ownership.

Posted: 12/21/2012 11:49 AM EST
Wayne LaPierre

Finally, a week after the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association, the nation’s leading champion of selling as many guns as the country can possibly buy, has spoken.

In a speech that was raucously interrupted by protests, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre offered a perspective in the aftermath of the school shootings that was as breathtaking as it was disturbing.

In the world of the NRA, guns are not the problem – and cannot possibly ever be the problem. Instead, LaPierre placed the blame of violent deaths on everyone and everything from President Obama and the media to video games. He dismissed as outrageous any proposal to limit the access of guns, even the murderous semi-automatic weapons that can kill hundreds of people in minutes.

The answer, LaPierre and his colleagues, insist, is more guns. We are all targets, he maintains, and the answer is that more people need to be armed. Let’s put more handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons in the hands of teachers, in our homes, LaPierre said.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said in his speech.

To be sure, there are video games that are terrifyingly violent and help to desensitize citizens to the horror of violence. There is little doubt that beefing up security measures at many of the nation’s schools can assist in the task of keeping schoolchildren safe from danger.

But the NRA finds no fault in the at-the-ready access of guns in the United States. It takes no issue with the fact that guns are easier to obtain in many cities than driver's licenses. It protests that renewing the assault weapons ban would amount to an infringement on the freedom of Americans. It never considers the fact that there are some weapons that should never be in the hands of American citizens, guns that have nothing to with hunting or self-defense, but are instead the tools of war.

Americans have developed firm views on the topic after the carnage in Newtown, Connecticut. A recent CNN poll indicated that 37 percent of Americans believe there is a need for major gun control laws and 33 percent believe there is a need for minor gun control legislation. The poll indicated that 13 percent felt no gun control laws were necessary.

LaPierre has proven that he is out of touch with a vast number of Americans. The hope here is that his press conference, with its misguided pronouncements and blinders to the most prominent problems of gun access, will help galvanize people with saner perspectives to step up the business of regulating access to guns at long last.

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(Photo: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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