Wayne LaPierre, CEO and President of the National Rifle Association, brought the fight to the liberal New York media when he appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. For the majority of the show, he took the same old lines of defense, but this time with a twist.
The lines have been drawn before and brought back into the tragedy in Newtown, CT when Mr LaPierre stated: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Statements like these strike the standard cord of the gun lobby that guns do not kill people, but people kill people. The statement was met with outrage across the country and condemned as insensitive and inappropriate by members of both political parties. Seeing that he was losing the argument for the NRA, Mr. LaPierre chose to come to a studio and remind the rank and file of the basic talking points, including: higher armed police presence in schools; the shooting in Columbine occurred after the first assault rifle ban; no ban on weapons will stop an evil person from targeting and eliminating victims; and there is no national database for those considered mentally ill.
I was expecting one argument which I did not hear: guns in the hands of individuals protect our rights as individuals, as we can bring the fight to the federal government should it become tyrannical. Instead of the conventional line, Mr. LaPierre attacked the residents of New York City as discriminatory elites. When pressed further on the political power of his lobby, LaPierre responded with this: “If you're one of the mayor's buddies, you get your permit. If you're the guy in the box out there at the scene of the crime, most in need of the protection, you're flat out of luck. What the N.R.A.'s about, we're about the average guy. We're about the non-celebrity, the non-300 hitter. We're about non-developer.”
With great confidence and righteousness, LaPierre struck the same tone and message as Occupy Wall Street. He and his members are the 99%, but they are organized and willing to act in the political arena to defend their corner and the interest of their members. An issue that seemingly galvanized the nation for a discussion and action on gun violence has once again become a war of words about “us” and “them.” The argument that he presented was not on the American issue, but the disarming of the common man by the city elites so that the ruling class can hold on to the imposed monopoly on guns.
To reiterate the point, he finished the argument by saying: “And the average guy in the country values his freedom, doesn't believe the fact he can own a gun is part of the problem, and doesn't like the media and all these high profile politicians blaming him…”
My response is this: Gun violence with all of its components of manufacturing, distribution, sales, regulations, licensing, mental health, background checks, law enforcement, and education are an American problem and not just a game of perception. However, just like you subscribe to the Bill of Rights, I reserve the right to look to the Declaration of Independence where “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” At the very foundation of our law and our national doctrine is the appreciation and value of life ABOVE ALL. When it comes to the questions being asked, finding divisive tones for a political victory is not only irresponsible, it is increasingly dangerous. We deserve better, as this is not about “us” and “them.” It will take all of us to address this problem in a constructive way and I will share some of my ideas in pieces to follow.