Friday, December 21, 2012

We waited a week for that?

Today Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, spoke before the nation, breaking a week of silence from the organization following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

I wasn't impressed.

LaPierre famously focused his speech on a bone-crushingly expensive plan to put armed guards in every American school. As a reporter I can say that school security is already hostile enough to adults who need to visit the main office and I don't think ramping up an over-indulgent security obsession is going to make it any better.

Since mass shootings are in no way increasing, there is no excuse for this flailing attempt at a solution.

He also blamed video games and movies. These are things that we know do not cause violence. When someone gets stabbed, do we blame Shakespeare's MacBeth?

There are a few moments I liked. He did get some good remarks in about anti-gun bias in the media and the way firearm opponents speak about guns the way Deepak Chopra speaks about quantum physics:

The media calls semi automatic firearms "machine guns." They claim these civilian semiautomatic firearms are used by the military. They tell us that the .223 round is one of the most powerful rifle calibers, when all of these claims are factually untrue. They don't what they're talking about

For what it's worth, I support allowing teachers and other school employees who have concealed weapons permits to carry those same weapons into schools where they can be used defensively. That idea is being criticized by the anti-gun crowd and misrepresented as forcing all teachers to carry guns.

If that idea is not politically possible, then Plan B should be to do nothing.


Schools are safe places and school shootings are rare, although dramatic. Just as airplane crashes get more attention than car crashes, mass shootings get so much attention it distorts public perception and implies a fictional trend is taking place. Every one of these shootings is a tragedy, but they do not warrant useless, costly gestures that will not change anything.


  1. That's what's really sad about this whole "debate". We're basically going to spend the next three months arguing about things that aren't true (that assault rifles are military weapons) and then our government will pass a solution that will do nothing, then we'll scratch our heads when the next massacre happens, and cycle repeats it self.

  2. The next massacre will happen because there will always be crazy people. If it wasn't guns it would be explosives, if not that it would be a disgruntled cafeteria employee putting strychnine in the salad dressing, if it weren't that it would be arson, if it weren't that it would be...

    As Michael says, give trained, willing and licensed school employees the ability to carry arms suitable for defensive use. The biggest effect would come from the uncertainty about which, or how many, people are armed within the building.

    You will never see the headquarters of the Maine Rifle Association or the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine stormed by a gunman for a similar reason.

    1. @Nate
      I don't know if that was directed at me, but I do agree. My point wasn't that there aren't crazy people, my point was that for the next three months we're all going to waste our time. Other than that, anti-teachers with guns people keep saying, "you want to give them guns so that 'they' can then shoot people". How would you respond to that?

    2. Obviously the point is for them to shoot people, that's part of what guns are for. If the gun control loons think that is a point scored for them, they are out of their minds. I certainly wouldn't expect them to leave a gun sat on their desk instead of giving an active shooter a lead supplement as he shoots the school up.

      In addition to owning a business, I work for one of the school departments in my area, I've often thought how absurd it is that I'm sitting there, likely with more firearms training and certainly with more combat training than most of the local police. God forbid anything should ever happen, but if it does, I'll be beside myself that the government forced me to sit there trained, but unarmed as people are gunned down left, right, and center.

      Frankly, everyone should be more worried about the bilge that gets taught in public schools, even irresponsible teachers with weapons is a small risk by comparison.

  3. They relly need to start searching people for signs on the way into these things. Forget weapons.

  4. Nate, if these people are as crazy as you say (and I am quite ready to grant they are) what makes you think that they're going to be convinced by prudential considerations (deterrents)? If someone is willing to kill himself, after he commits his crime, how is the knowledge that all the rest of the people around him have guns going to deter him? All he needs is to catch them off guard, and he'll do the damage he wants to do.

    I think it's hard to make arguments that involve this sort of appeal to psychology. We have suspicions about psychology that are correct most of the time, but these sorts of extreme cases make it hard to apply them.

    But I do agree with what you said, that crazy people are going to do these things in any way they can -- and I don't think that such-and-such a law will have good consequences or prevent bad cases is enough to justify its passage.