Wayne’s World is Not Our World

No guns, no Newtown massacre of innocent first graders and their teachers. LaPierre and the NRA are directly responsible for helping to enable that tragedy and others like it. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Liberals are fascinated with ultra-conservative paranoia about government coming to take away their arsenals.  This may explain the ridiculous over-coverage by the media this past week of the speech by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association.  As wacky as his ideas might have been, the media covered his speech with the kind of reverence normally reserved for a presidential address.  LaPierre asserted that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Folks, have we lost our ability to think ?  Not only does the evidence show that his statement is inaccurate – England, with the same violent movies and games is able to stop bad guys without arming good guys through lax gun laws – it also asks us to follow him into the looking glass by checking our brains at the door.

Consider the following.  You can walk into any classical music concert in this country unimpeded and unchecked for weapons.  Should we have armed good guys protecting us at every philharmonic concert?  There are literally hundreds of thousands of houses of worship open to the public every weekend in this country.  Should we have armed good guys at every service?  Should we have armed good guys throughout even the smallest sporting events?  Post offices?  Town Halls?  Selectmen’s meetings?  Throughout parades hidden like secret service agents?  Every movie theater?  Dance?  Knitting circle?

You get the idea.  The only appropriate response to LaPierre’s naked promotion of even more gun sales is ridicule.  He shows no shame at having opposed the idea of limiting the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons with giant ammunition clips which were used in the slaughter of innocent children.  This idea of arming yet more people with unlimited ammunition deserves to be treated as an ignorant joke by sensible NRA members … and by us.

Fred Rich LaRiccia & Terrence McGinty



Discuss

39 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. He's covered because he speaks for the NRA...

    …which is for better or worse (OK, basically worse) a prominent voice in the gun debate, but I don’t see the reverence you describe.

    • The coverage of his speech...

      …was way out-sized when you consider how many people he represents, Chris – I think that’s what was meant by reverence. Think about it – the NRA has 4 million members, right? Well, the AARP has 40 million members – if the president of the AARP gave a speech on the fiscal cliff, or Medicare, or Social Security, would he have gotten the wall-to-wall press coverage like LaPierre did?

      • Hadn't thought of it that way.

        Then again, maybe there’s a bit of thinking that Mr. LaPierre will say something “out there” to put it charitably while the head of the AARP might not be quite as exciting.

      • Power and influence

        Having not even heard of A. Barry Rand before looking up his name, I think it’s a safe bet that Mr LaPierre has considerably more power and influence than the less than eponymous head of the AARP.

        • AARP members don't take their marching orders from the AARP

          Loosely speaking, you might see a bumper sticker that reads
          I’m a member of the AARP and I vote
          and it means exactly that. Two distinct things, not tightly related. Alternatively,
          I’m a member of the NRA and I vote
          means, quite often, one and the same. I vote the way the NRA tells me to vote. I’m a loyal lever puller.

          That’ was the message from the 1994 elections following the passage of the assault weapons ban earlier that year. The lesson was heard loud and clear by Democrats and Republicans alike, and won’t be forgotten anytime soon. The NRA’s membership is much smaller than the AARP, but the influence the leadership has on members is much, much stronger.

  2. He also begs the question of who the "good guys" are

    Given the statistical evidence that guns endanger everyone around them, regardless of who has them, I don’t think someone who carries one into a school, or a theater, or a shopping mall, is a “good guy.” I think that someone is a jerk who’s endangering him- or herself, and everyone in range. Please leave your lethal toys at home.

    I think it’s good to give the Waynes of the world exposure. Every time they come out defending assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, it gives rational people a chance to rebut their arguments and refute their positions.

    • Depends on who the "someone" is

      Is there statistical evidence that the guns possessed by police officers, when on duty, endanger everyone around them? How about other officers of the law (SBI, FBI, etc)?

      I’m *not* arguing for a uniformed police officer (or more than one) walking a beat in an elementary school hallway, merely that as we rational people get a chance to rebut, we also refine are arguments so that they’re precise.

      • No statistics

        It appears that no one collects data for things like how many unarmed civilians are shot by police, and this does not seem to be an accidental oversight.

        The International Chiefs of Police, a police organization, tried in the 1980′s to collect such information, but “the figures were very embarrassing to a lot of police departments,” said James Fyfe, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University who is a former New York City police lieutenant.

        It’s difficult to refine the arguments when entire fields of data are not even collected.

        Guns are intrinsically very dangerous. If they are not handled in a perfectly correct manner (or locked up), accidental or wrongful injuries and deaths will inevitably result. The same is true for things like farm equipment and machine tools, but nobody can carry those things around in their pocket, and they can’t do damage at a distance. Which is precisely what all firearms are designed for

        • And here are some stories

          Not statistics, but a blogger has assembled a collection of stories of police officers shooting themselves accidentally. The first one starts with this:

          RIVERDALE, Utah (AP) – The police chief who shot himself in the ankle was waving a loaded pistol and being careless, according to two students who were attending his class to qualify for a concealed- weapons permit.

          The man was a chief of police. He was dismantling a loaded gun while teaching a firearms safety class.

        • Sure, there will be more than zero inappropriate injuries/deaths

          due to firearms owned/operated by police. However, there’s a bit of a problem here — it’s impossible to measure how many times the brandishing (or firing) of a weapon by an officer has reduced either (a) the total number of victims, or (b) the total number of unarmed victims.

          I’m just not sure how to incorporate this idea into the line of thinking above. After all, most officers in the UK aren’t carrying firearms, but then again, there isn’t roughly one firearm per citizen within the UK either.

          • Not the point

            I think that those cases of lives being saved by cops with guns are beside the point I’m making, which is that having guns around increases your chance of being injured or killed, even if it’s a cop who has the gun – even, in fact if you ARE the cop with the gun. In case you didn’t have a chance to read the link in my comment above, another cop-victim story there involves two “range masters and experienced firearms instructors” who were alone at a firing range. One of them accidentally shot and killed the other one. If those guys can’t always handle guns safely, nobody can, and that’s my point.

    • Citation?

      I call BS … “statistical evidence that guns endanger everyone around them…”

      Aren’t there around 300 million guns in private hands RIGHT NOW? If that number is correct, I would say that gun deaths in the US, given the availability of weapons, is remarkably low. Removing “Homicides by Gun” and “Suicides by Gun,” less than 800 people are accidentally, unintentionally killed by guns each year (as of 2005.)

      Compare that to accidental, non-boating drownings (pools, bathtubs, even buckets) of around 3,500 annually (for the years 2005-2009.)

      Before we ban anything gun related, let’s ban the 10 million swimming pools in the US.

  3. LaPierre's argument

    Mr LaPierre argues that we protect banks and Presidents with armed guards. Why not school children, who are precious to us, too? Forget who said this, but one answer to that is that there are explicit motivations to assassinate and rob banks. Shooting up schools — or performances of the Boston Chamber Music Society — confer no benefits political, financial, or otherwise.

    However, if we took Mr. LaPierre’s argument to its logical conclusion, we’d recognize that don’t just love children, we love adults too. So each car of Green Line would have an armed guard, every block of Downtown Crossing, every field hockey game, and services at Old South Church. In short, we’d have a police society.

    • And people rob banks all the time.

      Crazy people don’t shoot up schools all the time. Schools already lock all their doors, banks don”t.

      Followed to it’s logical conclusion, the NRA would like to see everyone armed.

      • Follow the money

        People rob banks because that’s where the money is. Armed psychopaths shoot up schools because that’s where the children are.

        The only sure result of increasing the number of people who carry guns is that the arms industry will make more money.

        Interpreting the Second Amendment to assure an individual right to own military-style weapons of mass murder leads to the suicidal absurdity that the Constitution demands that we arm traitors who seek to act against the US Government. This bizarre interpretation, while long favored by the right-wing cranks who were formerly restricted to the ranks of fringe groups like the John Birch society, has now wormed its way into the center of American politics.

        It is an absurd interpretation. Perhaps it’s time to amend the Second Amendment to clarify that Americans have NO right to own, possess, distribute, or sell weapons of mass murder or supplies for those weapons — whether those weapons are ballistic, chemical, biological, or nuclear in nature.

      • An even dumber alternative

        Instead of allowing law enforcement, which already is over stretched and underfunded, the resources and abilities it needs to confiscate guns from potential terrorists and criminals he instead proposed wasting billions that we do not have on assigning law enforcement to schools or in most cases hiring unregulated private security forces. It makes sense for his bottom line too. His alternative not only fails as public policy from a value standpoint, or an efficacy standpoint (Columbine had two armed guards), but also succeeds in giving his private special interest even more power and money since private guards would want high tech weaponary and would want us to pay for them.

        Enough is enough. Remember when Bill Clinton, Bill Weld, and Paul Cellucci passed tough gun laws in the 1990s to appear as law and order conservatives? Lets take back the rhetoric. This is not aboug gun control-’big gov’ment takin my guns away’-its about disarming terrorists and criminals. Either you support our efforts or you support arming terrorists and criminals.

        • Traitors!

          Not just arming terrorists and criminals, but TREASON!

          If the Second Amendment were only about hunting and target practice, it wouldn’t be in the Constitution. It is specifically about the citizenry arming itself to protect against an abusive government.

          That may have been relevant and needed in late 18th century North America. Today, the action it enables is called “treason”, and individuals who take that action are called “traitors”.

          The extreme lunatic fringe of the right-wing views itself as the salvation of the “true” America — and views the destruction of “the Government”, by force if necessary, as a necessary step towards that nightmarish vision. The Tea Party and NRA have successfully infected the body politic with this dangerously wrong and suicidal meme.

          I think its time to label these people what they are: traitors. Traitors, who advocate treason and actively work to ARM and recruit fellow traitors to the cause of violently overthrowing the government of the US (if they fail in their efforts to accomplish the same end through political means).

          The PURPOSE of the “conservative” GOP/Tea Party political action is to bring down the government as we know it. This the underlying theme that motivates their actions provoking the debt ceiling “crisis”, slashing taxes and then claiming the need for “austerity”, dismantling and defunding every vestige of the New Deal, paralyzing the Senate through the abuse of the filibuster, and now insisting on dismantling Social Security.

          This is political treason, just as the impeachment of Bill Clinton was political assassination. The right wing is attempting destroy the government of the US, using the political system as its tool. Folks like Wayne LaPierre, the NRA, and their supporters are explicitly working to maximize their access to high-power military weapons if their political efforts fail.

          The dozens of murdered children are just collateral damage.

          • No, it's not

            It is specifically about the citizenry arming itself to protect against an abusive government.

            I’m afraid the NRA has managed to fool you into thinking it is about that. It is not. It is specifically about the security of the state. The UNregulated militias and gun nuts have no interest in the security of the state. In fact, many of them regularly make statements threatening the state. Their right to bear arms is not protected by the 2nd Amendment.

            • Violent agreement

              I think we are in violent agreement here; I have certainly not embraced NRA propaganda. I enthusiastically agree with you that many of these right-wing cranks “regularly make statements threatening the state”.

              The text in question 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.

              This has always, and correctly in my view, been interpreted to mean that the people have a right to maintain “a well regulated militia”. It seems clear enough to me that “militia”, as contemplated in the late 18th century, meant something like a “civilian army” — I think the closest we have to that now is a National Guard chapter. This meaning is, in practical terms, obsolete.

              The only context in which such a right makes any sense today is a context where an organized “civilian army” would take up arms against what they suppose to be a rogue national government. Such an action would be, by any stretch of semantics that I can think of, treasonous — it would have more in common with the Confederate Army of the Civil War than anything contemplated by the framers of the Constitution.

              The handsprings turned by Mr. Scalia in his tortured opinion in Heller underline this point. He writes (emphasis mine):

              The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.

              In my view, history — especially recent history — has shown that this role of a “citizens’ militia” is far more harmful to the Republic than whatever imagined threat it purports to protect us from. It leads to precisely the sort of violent extremism that we see the right-wing cranks advocating today — treason.

              • Just like the guard

                And I got a close friend in the Guard fighting in Afghanistan now who is a Brown supporting Republican but made two great points last we spoke
                1)The 2nd Amedment establishes the guard and police forces who are civilians that may be called on to be part of the military-er go they should be the ONLY civilians with access to this firepower
                2) He would have much rather helped rebuild New Jersey after Sandy than Kandahar after a Taliban attack and he is so right on that issue too.

                • No SCOTUS nomination for you

                  or Somervilletom. Or your close friend in the guard. Individual rights are affirmed by the 2nd Amendment. It’s settled law (like Roe v Wade.)

                  And you should take a closer look at some STATE constitutions, including Massachusetts’. Only a handful (IIRC, MD, NJ, NY, some others) lack explicitly worded 2nd Amendments of their own which clearly spell out the individual right to keep and bear arms for self-protection.

                  SCOTUS could weaken or nullify 2nd amendment rights, but state constitutions would have per-eminence.

                  • Settled law since the summer of 2008?

                    Before Roberts and Alito came to town, nobody ever heard of the Second Amendment being an individual right. It was, in fact, “settled law” to the contrary.

                    And no SCOTUS nomination for you. Under the Supremacy Clause, a federal statute trumps a state constitution. As for our Massachusetts Constitution, not an individual right:

                    Massachusetts: The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority, and be governed by it. Pt. 1, art. 17 (enacted 1780).

                    [Interpreted as collective right only, Commonwealth v. Davis, 343 N.E.2d 847 (Mass. 1976).]

                    • You are partially correct on MA, and on 2008

                      To some extent, you are right on on your 2008 timeline. SCOTUS had not heard any 2nd Amendment cases since Miller in 1934 until Heller in 2008. Even Miller never said much about the 2nd’s individual right. So, for more than 70 years there’s been no Supreme Court guidance.

                      Now there is. It’s an individual right.

                      The closer reading of the SJC’s opinion in Davis did note that the “militia” could be construed as meaning “the people,” but that the MA constitution’s wording gave the legislature broad regulatory powers although “short of any sweeping prohibition.

                      Good cite, though; Volokh is a go-to guy on 2nd Amendment analysis. BTW, he believes a magazine capacity limitation would pass scrutiny until Heller.

                    • Supremacy Clause

                      Yes, I know this, but I was speaking to watering down of the protections afforded by the 2nd Amendment. If there wasn’t a 2nd Amendment, then it would be up to the states. That was my point.

                    • But that is not right

                      If there were no Second Amendment, it would be up to Congress since anything they’d pass would trump state constitutional protections. And even with a Second Amendment and within the constitutionally erroneous world of Heller, there is room for Congressional legislation.

                      I’d say Miller said all that needed to be said about the “individual right theory. That noted lefty Mr. Justice McReynolds, writing for the Court, said:

                      In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a “shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length” at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument.

                      The SJC was quite clear in Davis that the Massachusetts constitution confers no individual right to bear arms, outside the context of state militia:

                      the declared right to keep and bear arms is that of the
                      people, the aggregate of citizens; the right is related to the
                      common defense; and that in turn points to service in a broadly
                      based, organized militia. Provisions like art. 17 were not
                      directed to guaranteeing individual ownership or possession of
                      weapons.

                      There’s simply no support at all for an individual right to bear arms in the case. They go on to say that, in old days, militia members were obligated to provide their own weapons. But today, with a publicly funded National Guard, that concern no longer applies. Anyway, even in the days when militia members provided their own weapons, broad regulation would have been OK “short of some sweeping prohibition.”

                      About the Second Amendment the SJC wrote this:

                      The chances appear remote that this amendment will
                      ultimately be read to control the States, for unlike some other
                      provisions of the bill of rights, this is not directed to
                      guaranteeing the rights of individuals, but rather, as we have
                      said, to assuring some freedom of State forces from national
                      interference.

                      Guess they didn’t reckon on Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, who really are radically remaking American jurisprudence.

                  • Oh, please

                    I’m going to make every effort to ignore this rubbish.

            • Kirth, please explain

              Hamilton and Madison both commented on the purpose of the 2nd Amendment: protection against a tyrannical government. Check out Hamilton’s lengthy explanation of this in Federalist No. 28. Empowerment of “the people”, not the government, is quiet clear.

              Also how does your statement that an individual’s “right to bear arms is not protected by the 2nd Amendment” square with the recent SCOTUS and lower court opinions?

              • Advancing the "treason" argument

                So you join the extreme lunatic fringe of the right wing in claiming a right to arm yourself in order to overthrow a “tyrannical” government.

                In 21st century America, that government is the US government, including state and local authorities. Please — how is what you apparently advocate different from treason?

                • Who said anything about overthrowing the US gvt?

                  Where do you get this stuff? Can you point me to an NRA, GOP, or Tea Party web page advocating overthrow?

                  Would you consider, say, passing a constitutional amendment cancelling the Commerce Clause as treasonous? How about privatizing Social Security through legislative means? Or SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade?

                  These represent, like federal income taxes, and Obamacare for that matter, the ebb and flow of national policy and politics. Just because you feel any modifications to “government as we know it” are extra-legal and treasonous doesn’t make it so. That’s crazy moonbat [extreme lunatic fringe] thinking.

                  • What "tyrannical government" would be the target?

                    You wrote: “Hamilton and Madison both commented on the purpose of the 2nd Amendment: protection against a tyrannical government.”

                    What “tyrannical government” would such “protection” be used against? In what scenario would combat weapons be used against a government that is NOT the duly established government OF THE UNITED STATES? What “tyrannical government” that is NOT the government of the United States would respect the constraints of this particular interpretation of the Second Amendment?

                    The scenario you describe may have been necessary and appropriate for the late 18th century. It has less validity today than our Massachusetts laws prohibiting inter-racial sex and sex outside of marriage.

                • Tom- I think what shepherd is getting at is

                  put in a perspective that a liberal like myself can understand, what happens if you get a President Cheney, who decides one day, maybe when anti-war or anti-Wall Street protests get a little too prevalent, that he’s going to use his authority as commander in chief to start fucking everybody up. Put a couple thousand people in Guantanamo type prisons. Use drones to take out some dissenting families. Who’s going to stop him, if the generals go along with his essential plans? The Supreme Court? What’s to stop a psycho with control of the military?
                  The problem with all of this is, of course, even if every “good” man, woman, and child was armed, the army could probably still win because they could use advanced weaponry. Also, of course, most soldiers would never go along with a Dictator Cheney’s orders to kill American civilians.
                  And of course I sound like a lunatic, but this is what I always imagined was the thrust of the NRA’s position, and the only logical justification for the second amendment.

                  • Precisely

                    I think you are precisely correct, and such action would certainly be prosecuted as treasonous. The NRA (and apparently bostonshepherd) is arguing that the Second Amendment obligates the US government to arm traitors who organize to bring it down.

                    I think that is pure insanity.

              • My reading of Federalist #28

                seems to back my interpretation of the Second Amendment applying to “a well-regulated militia.” Which isn’t quite the same thing as “I need an assault weapon at home to protect myself from burglars, or to go shoot up the local movie theater if the voices in my head tell me to.”

                For the life of me I can’t understand why people just decide to ignore that phrase. Why start off the amendment discussing the need for a well-regulated militia if that isn’t the point?

                As for Federalist #28:

                Power being almost always the rival of power, the general government will at all times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government. The people, by throwing themselves into either scale, will infallibly make it preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress. … It may safely be received as an axiom in our political system, that the State governments will, in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority.

                Emphasis mine; words our Founding Father’s. Once again, it sounds like the well-regulated state militia is being discussed here. Not Dirty Harry acting as a solo avenging force.

          • Tom, please remove tinfoil hat

            One man’s limited government is another man’s New Deal.

            If the body politic wants to change government in a direction away from government “as we know it,” well, hey, that’s politics. The New Deal isn’t written in stone.

  4. Dollars not guns

    The NRA is a lobbying organization that gets lots of money from and makes lots and lots of money for its client the gun manufacturers. Just think about the boom in gun sales in the last decade. It give some of this money to politicians and uses its clout to bully them as well.
    Now it’s inserting itself into our legal system. See Linda Greenhouse on the NRA’s new control of our judiciary:
    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/category/linda-greenhouse/
    (This may explain Scott Brown’s vote against Elena Kagan)
    But, i.m.h.o., the NRA now gets power from the media that covers it as though it is an elected body at the senior ranks of our policy-making system. Why else would every news radio and tv program break in to it regular program for a speech from the NRA.
    I say bah humbug to the NRA. They have no place in the policies and laws we create to protect ourselves and our nation.

    • The NRA's place

      They have no place in the policies and laws we create to protect ourselves and our nation.

      Cannot the same be said for AFSCME, the SEIU, and MoveOn.org?

      The NRA’s money is just as green as theirs.

      • What products do these organizations profit from?

        The NRA profits DIRECTLY from increased sales of guns and ammunition. The NRA is supported by the weapons industry it so effectively lobbies for.

        What is the corresponding product group or family that you claim makes the AFSCME, SEIU, and MoveOn.org comparable?

  5. Note on Federalist 28

    First, it seems to be discussing the ability of the people acting through their government to suppress insurrection. Second, that collection of essays should never be construed to help explain the Bill of Rights. They were written to convince New Yorkers that the original Constitution should be ratified. Not only was this before the BOR, but IIRC correctly some of the essays addressed why the authors believed a BOR was unnecessary.

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