Chris Graham: ‘Meaningful contributions’ from the NRA

chris-graham-links3The National Rifle Association pledged to offer “meaningful contributions” to make sure that school shootings like the one last week in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 26, including 20 first-graders, would never happen again. Those “contributions” took on a familiar form on Friday, with the gun-rights lobby attacking gun-control laws and unveiling a plan to placed armed guards in every school in America.

“The only way to answer that question is to face up to the truth. 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,” NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said today at what was styled as a press conference, except that no one from the NRA took any questions from reporters.

The NRA has been successful in expediting the massive buildup of Fortress America – with more than 300 million guns, Americans own more than half the world’s private stockpile of weapons – and is now using its own work as justification for more guns.

“The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment?” LaPierre said.

Another truth – Lanza was not anything resembling a “genuine monster” until the morning of Dec. 14, 2012, and had accessed to weapons lawfully in the possession of someone the NRA would consider a responsible gun owner, his mother, Nancy, who was the first victim of Adam Lanza’s shooting rampage.

The spectre of additional unidentified monsters was used by LaPierre to issue a call for an active national database of the mentally ill, an interesting possible walkback for the NRA in its long track record of pushing for unfettered access of otherwise law-abiding citizens to the Second Amendment. LaPierre also built a strawman in the form of a media that supposedly conceals the impact of video games, movies and music that have long been the subject of news reports on the increasingly violent nature of our modern culture.

“In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes — every minute of every day of every month of every year,” said LaPierre, overlooking the impact of an increasingly armed America relative to the rest of the industrialized world.

Americans are six times more likely to die as a result of gun violence than citizens of any other Western nation. There are 60 percent more guns owned per capita by Americans than residents of any other country in the world.

“And throughout it all, too many in our national media … their corporate owners … and their stockholders … act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws and fill the national debate with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away,” said LaPierre, the pot calling the kettle black.

The prevalence of guns in our society is the great enabler. Canadians, to our northern border, own one-third of the guns that we do per capita, and has a gun-murder rate one-sixth what we have.

Take guns out of the equation, and the overall murder rates of the two neighbors are basically identical. Our murder rate overall is much higher because we have more guns, and we use them more often. Bottom line.

“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?” LaPierre said.

The answer, for the two-thirds of American households that currently don’t own a gun, is “a long time ago.” For the purposes of this national discussion, it’s more like “a week ago.”

It was when this “genuine monster” with no prior criminal history and a form of autism that the NRA wants to write off as a mental illness took a .223 rifle legally purchased and owned by his mother and used it to mow down first-graders.

“Five years ago, after the Virginia Tech tragedy, when I said we should put armed security in every school, the media called me crazy. But what if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified, armed security?”

What if, indeed. What if Adam Lanza had won that shootout, and then went ahead and did what he was aiming to do anyway? Is there any way to guarantee that an armed guard being on the premises will disable a person with ill intent and an arsenal at his disposal?

How likely is it that this confrontation between armed guard and armed intruder results in innocent bystanders getting caught in a crossfire?

The answer there: “just as.”

“Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 innocent lives might have been spared? Is that so abhorrent to you that you would rather continue to risk the alternative?” said LaPierre.

How about you conceding, Mr. LaPierre, that it’s possible that a monster with ill intent having to resort to using another, less effective weapon can also lead to lives being spared? As was the case last week in China, when another monster attacked 22 students in a school with a knife, and while all 22 suffered injuries, some serious, not a single soul was extinguished.

How abhorrent that must have been for LaPierre and the NRA, that none of those Chinese students died. Messed up their planned PR counteroffensive big time.

“Is the press and political class here in Washington so consumed by fear and hatred of the NRA and America’s gun owners that you’re willing to accept a world where real resistance to evil monsters is a lone, unarmed school principal left to surrender her life to shield the children in her care? No one — regardless of personal political prejudice — has the right to impose that sacrifice,” said LaPierre.

And yet Wayne LaPierre and the NRA has the right to impose its personal political prejudices on first-graders and teachers and principals and people shopping in malls and people driving down rural Pennsylvania roads and anywhere and everywhere else.

And for what? Certainly not for anyone’s safety. More guns don’t make us more safe. If guns equated to safety, America would be the safest country in the world, on the order of 60 percent safer than the next nation. Instead, we’re much, much more likely to die as a result of gun violence than anyone else on earth.

And the solution from the “genuine monsters” at the NRA is more of the same.

You know what you can do with your “meaningful contributions.”