Minority of One blog

The NRA's latest debacle

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The National Rifle Association spoke out for the first time this morning since the school shootings in Newtown. The news conference was interrupted twice by protesters.

Given its disrepute in the wake of the Newtown massacre, I thought the NRA could only improve in public opinion. But in his highly anticipated appearance today, Vice President Wayne LaPierre managed to make the organization look even worse than before.

I'm generally skeptical of gun control measures, but I'm also on record tabbing LaPierre as an irresponsible hysteric. He did his best to live up to that label today, railing against the makers of violent video games, an industry he claims "sells, and sows, violence against its own people." He also denounced the movie business: "Isn't fantasizing about killing people as a way to get our kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?"

You might have thought he would have addressed the merits or defects of such proposals as requiring background checks for private sales of guns or limiting the size of magazines. Instead, he offered a proposal of his own: putting armed guards in every public school in America, which the NRA says would consist entirely of volunteers.

It's a gross overreaction, given that schools are generally very safe places to be. It's also implausible to think we could find more than 100,000 trained volunteers to patrol each school anytime its doors are open. And if we were going to hire more cops, there are far better places to put them.

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The NRA is making an obvious attempt to change the subject. But his effort was so clumsy and tone-deaf that it will only increase the pressure on politicians to disregard the group. The NRA would be better off offering sober, factual analysis of proposals to restrict firearms and ammunition. Sobriety, however, seems to be more than LaPierre can muster.

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