Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, delivered a highly-anticipated statement on Friday – exactly one week after Adam Lanza peppered an elementary school with bullets and killed 20 children and six adults. Addressing reporters in Washington, D.C., LaPierre delivered one of the most ridiculous, self-defeating, tone-deaf, and downright bizarre press conferences in the illustrious history of people standing at podiums and talking.
At the beginning of his remarks, LaPierre was briefly interrupted by a member of Code Pink, who held up a banner reading, “NRA KILLING OUR KIDS” in front of a nervously patient LaPierre before he was escorted out. Incredibly, that was the least crazy part of the press conference, and if LaPierre had called it a day right then, some anti-gun viewers might have even felt sorry for the guy.
But alas for LaPierre, he pressed on, and gave a speech that must have been intended for an audience watching from a parallel universe. After some perfunctory words about the NRA joining in the “horror, outrage, and grief” over the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, LaPierre implicated the media:
“Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here's one: it's called Kindergarten Killers. It's been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn't or didn't want anyone to know you had found it?
“Then there's the blood-soaked slasher films like ‘American Psycho’ and ‘Natural Born Killers’ that are aired like propaganda loops on ‘Splatterdays’ and every day, and a thousand music videos that portray life as a joke and murder as a way of life. And then they have the nerve to call it ‘entertainment.’”
Ignoring for a moment the fact that the speechwriters at the NRA couldn’t come up with a video game or a movie less than 10 years old (which leads me to believe that this one has been in the queue for a while), LaPierre’s blaming film and gaming is anathema to what has been the foundation of the NRA’s position on guns for years, which is: Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
Now, the NRA’s position is: Guns don’t kill people. Video games do.
If someone wants me dead, I’d prefer they come at me armed with a copy of Halo 4 rather than an AR-15.
For years, the NRA has espoused the virtues of personal responsibility, and has said that the majority of gun owners are sane and responsible people who respect firearms, and that it would be a grave error to restrict guns and punish responsible individuals for the actions of a small minority of psychopaths.
But apparently the NRA is holding the media to a higher standard. While it’s ok for the NRA to fight virtually every gun control measure tooth and nail, what’s not ok is the portrayal of fake violence because there might be some real nuts out there.
To this end, says the NRA, it would be better if more people had guns. LaPierre reiterated this sentiment today, stating, “The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away ... or a minute away?”
Then LaPierre got even weirder.
One of the NRA’s underlying justifications for resisting just about every firearm restriction that can be conceived, is that someday Americans might have to rebel against a freedom-hating government and overthrow it. LaPierre himself has said, “The people have a right to take whatever measures necessary, including force, to abolish oppressive government.”
Which is why the following recommendation made by LaPierre at Friday’s press conference seemed to be one of the most nonsensical things uttered considering the context:
“I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school — and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January.”
Let’s leave aside the fact that this proposal would cost $5.5 billion per year, shall we?
So the head of the NRA, which is an organization that defends gun rights partially on the grounds that the people might have to overthrow their government one day, wants armed police officers – wards of the state, and in this case funded by the federal government – posted at every school in the country, in an effort to mitigate the effects of gun violence, while simultaneously preserving the right of the people to be free from undue government encroachment in their personal lives.
Yes, in an effort to preserve their right to be free from any potential police state, the NRA is essentially calling on Congress to create one in the country’s schools.
Shockingly, LaPierre did not take questions from the press corps.
The speech was so absurd, that while CNN and MSNBC carried it out in its entirety, the NRA-friendly Fox News cut away from it, rather than air LaPierre digging himself a hole for one more second.
LaPierre's press conference will go down as one of the most self-defeating in history. It was Budd Dwyer without the .357 magnum. He didn't do himself or the NRA any favors on Friday, and it may very well have cemented the growing public sentiment that more gun restrictions — not fewer — are the answer to our national gun problem.