In a bizarre press conference, NRA Chairman Wayne LaPierre called for the immediate placement of armed guards in all public schools. This is classic “fighting the last war” thinking, along with a dash of “think of the children” policymaking.
Just quickly, because you shouldn’t even dignify this with much of a response. One, it would cost $5.5 billion a year to put a guard in every public school in America. If that could come out of NRA dues or a tax on bullets, maybe we can talk. I don’t think that’s what LaPierre had in mind. Second, gun violence doesn’t only happen in public schools. WHILE LAPIERRE HELD HIS PRESS CONFERENCE, four people died in a mass shooting in Altoona, Pennsylvania, where the gunman just ran up and down a rural road. Presumably LaPierre’s response wouldn’t be “armed guards on all rural roads,” but we’ll see what he says at next week’s press conference. Finally, there was an armed guard at Columbine High School when two students shot up the school. He left for lunch when the shooting started, and returned in time to miss the target. The idea that you can place a security blanket around America is ridiculous, aside from the civil liberties degradation.
The speech itself was completely insane, and we do an injustice by even paying a second’s worth of attention to it, something I’ve already betrayed here. But it does show the magical thinking that allows the NRA to maintain power. Reportedly, some Democrats expected conciliation out of LaPierre at this press conference. He disappointed them. And with a substantial chunk of the House in his hip pocket, he has no reason not to disappoint. The “armed guards in schools” bit sounds like a classic wedge issue that Congress would leap at the chance to waste money on, especially if the NRA decides to score it. They successfully shut down debate on the gun issue for well over a decade. Maybe Newtown will provide a tipping point, though I question whether it should (that’s not an argument against gun safety, it’s an argument against the kind of “think of the children” policymaking I expect in the aftermath). But the NRA’s run a good game for a long time, and they haven’t been given a reason to stop yet.