Is the NRA Right? Guns for Everyone?

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I don’t understand what has gone wrong with this country.  Whenever Mr. Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association talks about arming every man, woman and child in America, it always sounds so rational. And yet many of us still walk around blissfully unaware that we are in mortal danger. Or so Mr. LaPierre would have us believe.

Maybe the NRA is right.  If so, where should we start?  Perhaps it could be expressed best in a new motto: “If kindergartners can hold a pencil, they can hold a gun!” We hear that children learn best when they learn earliest.  We all know first graders who are very dangerous. We can arm kindergartners against these predators. It may require a new class of pistol–smaller, lighter, with cartoon characters, but at least it’s a start. Mr. LaPierre counsels us that we must not wait until our children are hip-hopping teenagers or young adults who hate their in-laws. Anything can happen…at any time…says Mr. LaPierre. Arm yourself before it does.

For example, on April 3, in Pittsburgh, Richard Poplawski was upset about something, no one quite knows what. He argued with his mother, perhaps over her failure to arm herself. She called the police. Because he was upset, the natural thing for Richard to do was to get his guns. He had a .357 magnum and an AK-47 among other weapons. Naturally, being upset with society–as who isn’t– he lay in wait for the police and then he shot three dead and wounded two others.

Not one armed citizen happened to be passing by to ward off the killer. Not only that, but even the armed police were somehow unaware of LaPierre’s sensible warnings that all people should be armed. Obviously, Mr. Poplawski was paying attention and was armed and ready to kill anyone who suddenly became violent.  Unfortunately for the police, it turned out to be him.

The police were not following Mr. LaPierre’s principal dictum. Assume that all people are armed and crazy so that you can be prepared to kill them at a moment’s notice. Clearly the Founding Fathers knew this. They did not want citizens walking around without weapons. Moreover, the  bad guy, Poplawski, was wearing a bulletproof vest, which brings up another question. Should everyone not only carry a weapon, but also wear bulletproof clothing? It is something that Congress must consider.

Wayne LaPierre gave a rousing and barn-burning speech at the CPAC convention, right after Rush Limbaugh.  “Remember” LaPierre said, “the guys with the guns make the rules.” It’s pretty clear that the police aren’t making the rules. They’re getting shot. And citizens who don’t follow LaPierre’s common sense rules…that we all carry guns…are also getting shot in ever increasing numbers.

It gets worse.

One would think that a group of people taking a class would be smart enough to heed the LaPierre rules.  But no. There they were–totally unarmed–in a citizenship class in Binghampton, N.Y. less than a month ago as a 42-year old man walked in and killed 13 negligent people. Did they deserve it? Well…you decide. We can only say that the evidence is pretty clear. In clear violation of the NRA rules, not one of the victims was carrying a firearm of any kind.

Ok…so a couple of areas, mostly among the effete eastern establishment, may not have heard about Mr. LaPierre’s advice. Or ignored it.  People elsewhere know what is expected of them. Or do they?

Now, is  North Carolina gun country or what?  I can’t think of anywhere in the country where people are listening to Mr. LaPierre in greater numbers than in the Tarheel state. Well, in Carthage, North Carolina on March 29 Robert Stewart became distraught about something or other having to do with his estranged wife.  So of course he decided to get his guns and take his chances going up against a building full of nursing home residents. He knew, of course, that in North Carolina, most of those NRA-savvy old codgers might be lying in wait for him. But–because not one nursing home resident was following LaPierre’s rules–they were just sitting around with popcorn and not even a .22 pistol among them–they were responsible for Stewart’s killing 7 residents and a nurse. They were so ineffective in fact that they were not even able to prevent Stewart from killing himself.

And it doesn’t stop there.

In Oakland, California on March 21st a man who was armed with a pistol, as LaPierre advises, was pulled over in a traffic stop. For some reason he decided to shoot and kill four police officers. While we do not know the reason for the shooting, we do know that this citizen at least was following the kind of procedure–be armed at all times, just in case–that LaPierre wants to see put into effect throughout the land. The police were not being irresponsible of course. They were doing what LaPierre wants all citizens to do, keep a pistol in a holster at your side at all times, and leave it on the side of the tub when bathing. Of course, LaPierre is a strong advocate of law enforcement. Apparently, however, he prefers law enforcement that is quicker on the draw.

It is sad that these things happen in places like California….la-la land.  But it does not happen in the southeast, the old traditional states, the hunting states, where men are men and women are cooks and going to college is about playing football. Men know how to handle guns. This is hunting and fishing country. Unfortunately, in every area there are those who simply do not get the message.

In this case it was another group of irresponsible citizens in South Alabama on March 10 who were gunned down by Michael McLendon. More surprising is that his own mother…the mother of a mass murderer…a woman who should have known…was completely unarmed. Perhaps she decided to ignore Wayne LaPierre. Maybe she had never heard of him. Perhaps she was the lone Liberal in Southern Alabama. But it seems unlikely that a woman who raised a son who killed ten people, including her and lived in Alabama, the heart of National Rifle Association country would never have heard of Wayne LaPierre. She should have been armed.

LaPierre is not completely lacking in compassion. There are situations with extenuating circumstances. On Christmas Eve 2008 in Covina, California there may have taken place the one mass murder that offers some excuse to the participants, whom some refer to as the “victims.” Of course, we and Wayne LaPierre know better. There really are no “victims.” Only the unarmed. Perhaps in this case we may be more lenient. You see, not only were the participants attending a private Christmas Eve celebration, but Bruce Pardo, the mass murderer arrived dressed as Santa Claus. He killed nine people and then fled to his brother’s home where, irony of ironies, although armed to the teeth…he was unable to protect himself from a fatal, self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Of course, who suffers most in all this? Certainly, first and foremost, Wayne LaPierre. We can only wring our hands at the great sorrow he must feel as he watches murderer after murderer get away while literally hundreds of unarmed citizens stand by and do nothing. He has told us often, guided us in the right path: arm yourselves to the teeth. And we do not listen. Can we not spend at least as much on holsters as we waste each year on toothpaste?

So, let’s be clear. Wayne LaPierre has the guns. And, as he says, those with the guns make the rules. So let’s all get armed. He has made a pretty good case that we should all be afraid…very afraid.