I submitted the text of my essay on the NRA from a few days ago to a local newspaper. I got a call from the editor today asking me if I really wanted to go ahead with the article and pointing out a couple things that seemed a little too radical, for lack of a better word...
I am glad she called. In the previous post I made the comment that I believe we should ban the "private sale of firearms". That would be an inaccurate portrayal of my opinion. So I made some changes to the piece. It is below if you care to read it:
A few days ago the leader of the National Rifle Association spoke on national television. The NRA had been silent for some days in the aftermath of the recent tragedy in New England. Mr. Wayne LaPierre took the occasion to cast the blame for the recent incident in Connecticut on a wide variety of culprits in modern American society including violent video games, movies and even the president of the United States, who he accused of cutting funding for school safety. I was astounded at his hubris.
Mr Lapierre went on to state that the tragedy could have been averted if only there had been "one good guy with a gun" at the school. Perhaps it could have. Mr Lapierre lamented the fact that "monsters... walk among us" perpetrating these crimes against civil society and he wondered why we find guns good when they do good things like protecting the President or protecting the country, but bad otherwise. And then the head of the NRA went on to extol the expertise of the NRA in training the police forces of the country and to remind us of the good work they have done for many decades in providing training and education to new gun owners and juvenile hunters.
The main idea presented by Mr. Lapierre on behalf of the NRA was a proposition to provide training to armed guards who would be stationed in schools across the country to deter wouldbe assassins and mass murderers. He stated the the NRA would provide this training free of charge. I believe this is a noble effort by the National Rifle Association and it would probably work in the short term to reduce incidents like this recent one.
However, I do not think that it goes far enough to prevent and reduce the violence that is regularly visited upon innocent people in this country. In fact I think that putting armed guards in schools will only precede putting armed guards in churches and synogogues and is just another escalation of the problem with gun violence.
I am a gun owner. I own several hunting rifles. I own several handguns. I believe in the right of people to own weapons for self defense in their homes and for hunting. While semi-automatic weapons are fun to shoot I think the argument for them in home defense is mistaken. The ordinary person concerned with a weapon for home defense must keep in mind reliability and simplicity. I think of it this way. What weapon does a hunting guide in grizzly bear country use for defense against grizzly bears? The answer is nearly always a large caliber revolver.
We the people must take it upon ourselves to reduce the easy availability of weapons. This means closing the gunshow loophole that allows the transfer of guns without a background check. And then ban the sale and possession of high capacity magazines. The only purpose for high capacity magazines is to enable the killing of people in war. They were an escalation of the ability of soldiers to kill the enemy. They were made for war. The same sentiment holds true for assault weapons. They were meant to kill people in time of war. We know what they look like, now we need to come up with a legal definition that works. These are the first things that need to be done.
Then we need to figure out a way to have all new gun purchasers get screened for mental illness. And the idea that came to me was to use the expertise of the law enforcement and military in weeding out those who are not to be trusted with a weapon. The NRA has close ties to these types of organizations so they should work together to come up with a mental health screening exam that will catch the "monsters".
And finally, the National Rifle Association, after providing prospective new gun owners with training in the safe use of the weapon and after a mental health screen administered by the National Rifle Association (to keep the government out of the process!), Wayne LaPierre will sign the permit to buy the weapon. The NRA can then be responsible for the permits issued. They will actually have some "skin in the game" and will not just be another rightwing lobby in Washington, D.C. What do you think?