Friday, December 21, 2012

A Good Guy With a Gun

You really can’t make this stuff up. The National Rifle Association, after a long period of silence, has finally responded to the Newtown Elementary School massacre. Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA, held a press conference today (Dec. 21, with no questions allowed), to offer his solution to mass school shootings. Here’s what he said:

"I call on Congress today to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation."

La Pierre explained that his proposed program, which he dubbed the “National School Shield,” would be headed by former Arkansas Republican representative, Asa Hutchinson. After adding, apparently in agreement with Texas Congressman Louis Gohmert, that “Innocent lives might have been spared,” if armed security had been present at the Newtown school, he summarized the NRA position with this well-prepared sound bite:

            "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Now there’s a philosopher for you, and one with great sympathies for innocent children too.  LaPierre resembles the aforementioned Louis Gohmert in that regard. Gohmert, on December 16 (perhaps anticipating LaPierre) expressed sorrow at the death of Sandy Hook principal, Dawn Hochsprung, by saying to Chris Wallace on Fox News,

"Chris, I wish to God she had had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out ... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids…"

            So there it is, folks, the simple solution of our right-wing geniuses. Just arm teachers or principals to shoot first and ask questions later, to make schools more like prisons than they already are—with armed guards at every gate—and you solve the problem just like that. As to what little children or even big ones will think about having to be locked in and guarded (with assault rifles?) to ensure a “safe” environment for learning, well that’s a possible downside we’ll just have to put up with. Guns, are, after all, one of the constants in American history that kids should learn about anyway.

            Now that I think of it, perhaps a little history would be appropriate here. Robert Parry, a fearless journalist and creator of Consortium News (, provided us with some of that history—that behind the adoption of the Bill of Rights, including the 2d Amendment so dear to gun owners and the NRA. The Bill of Rights was in truth a late concession by conservatives like James Madison, who actually considered such a bill unnecessary because the already-agreed-upon Constitution specifically “set limits on the government’s power and contained no provisions allowing the government to infringe on the basic liberties of the people.” But Madison finally agreed to 10 amendments to spell out the people’s rights, and thank god for that.

            As to the second amendment, which reads—“A well regulated militia(,) being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”—its meaning was clarified, according to Parry, at the Second Congress when the government enacted the Militia Acts (there were two: the first on May 2, 1792, the second on May 8, 1792). They decreed that all white males of military age were conscripted, and should provide themselves with a bayonet, a musket, shot, and other equipment needed to serve in a militia. This lends credence to the long-held idea, and plainly implied in the amendment’s actual wording—recently overturned by the current idiots on the Supreme Court—that serving in a militia was central to the right to bear arms. The idea, again according to Parry, was to ensure the “security” of the young nation. To do this, there needed to be militias armed and ready not only to counter possible aggression from European powers like Britain, France and Spain—all with claims in the Americas—but also to subdue Native American tribes on the frontier, and to “put down internal rebellions, including slave revolts.” The wealthy southern planters who made up a large portion of the new nation’s most prominent citizens—Madison, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe—were especially concerned about keeping slaves under control. Real estate speculators like George Washington were likewise concerned about keeping restive Indians from decreasing the land value of his western holdings.

            Thus, it is clear that the Second Amendment so precious to conservatives had nothing to do with some idealistic ‘freedom’ for nature’s individual noblemen, Americans, to possess guns. If anything, those who wrote the Second Amendment would be alarmed at the numbers of the “masses,” whom they feared above all, running around with high-powered lethal weapons. Their chief concern was security—and security, as we have seen so vividly in the past fifty years, is compromised by the free availability of millions of lethal weapons (300 million weapons in a nation of 310 million).

            The only thing that is really secured by our absurd gun policies is the ability of weapons manufacturers to take advantage of the American male’s adolescent power fantasies to make huge profits.

            Profits before life—it could almost be the mantra of American capitalism.

Lawrence DiStasi

1 comment:

  1. In keeping with the intentions of the Second Amendment, we could all just carry muskets that take eons to load, one bullet at a time.