I felt chastened enough after my last posting on the Connecticut school massacre to write anything more about these types of shootings, but events have dragged me back. I, of course, am referring to the press statement of NRA CEO Biff Webster…sorry, Carlin on the the brain, actual name Wayne LaPierre:
“We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers.”
“Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it, and exploit it.”
“The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s CEO and executive vice president.
I have no illusions that the NRA got this idea from me, though I did mention a proposal stemming from overwrought passions that might seem equally unhinged. But in my defense, I had no illusions that armed police would be effective without magnetometers and x-ray machines.
LaPierre made no mention of July 24, 1998, but he did mention Capitol Police officers. On that summer day, Russel Eugene Weston shot USCP John Gibson in the offices of Rep. Tom DeLay before the mortally wounded detective returned fire and wounded the assailant. Perfect story of heroism, right? A Detective Gibson in every school, the NRA crows! Except Weston killed two USCP officers. He first shot Officer Jacob Chestnut in the back of the head when the officer insisted the disturbed man must walk through the magnetometer at the Document Door security checkpoint he was manning. Without the checkpoint, Weston could have opened fire on anyone without warning. Instead, he fired at Chestnut first.
So I find the NRA’s solution far less than adequate, and if they were to adopt the checkpoint formula I laid out its pitfalls before. But Mr. LaPierre’s proposal is broader than just inadequate school guards:
I’ll tell you what would work. We have a mental health system in this country that has completely and totally collapsed. We have no national database of these lunatics. … 23 states are still putting only a small number of records into the system and a lot of states are putting none. So when they go through the National Instant Check System and they go to try to screen out one of those lunatics, the records are not even in the system.
We have backed the National Instant Check system, we have backed putting anyone adjudicated mentally incompetent into the system. Now I know where you’re going with this. They come up with this whole, “oh, it’s a gun show loophole.” There’s not a gun show loophole. It’s illegal for felons to do anything like that, to buy guns. What the anti-Second Amendment movement wants to do is put every gun sale in the country under the thumb of the federal government. Congress debated this at length. They said if you’re a — a hobbyist or collector, if someone in West Virginia, a hunter, wants to sell a gun to another hunter, they ought to be able to do it without being under the thumb of the federal government.
Really? The NRA is advocating national databases? Isn’t that by their definition “under the thumb of the federal government,’ ripe for abuse by the “anti-Second Amendment movement?” But a far more obvious question is related to the transfer of ownership at the end of his quotation. Adam Lanza, the shooter that killed 26 people at Sandy Hook, lived with his mother, Nancy Lanza. Nancy legally owned every firearm involved with the massacre, including the gun that murdered her. How, pray tell, would a national database preclude Adam Lanza from accessing those said firearms?
I was beginning to question LaPierre’s sanity myself, but he beat me to it:
“If it’s crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy.”
Beyond the immense cost of Mr. LaPierre’s plan that he doesn’t have the decency to address, I have to ask Mr. LaPierre: what should these protectors be armed with? I don’t ask this to be crass (not yet, at least). Not all firearms are alike. Pistols or rifles, Mr. LaPierre? Six out of seven victims hit by handgun rounds survive, and both Adam Lanza and Aurora shooter James Holmes wore body armor. Rifles penetrate much better than pistols, and are far more accurate at range. So pistols out, rifles in, right? Which rifles? Well, Lanza and Holmes were both armed with the AR-15–a semi-automatic .223 (5.56 mm) rifle that eventually was adopted by the U.S. Armed Forces as the M16 assault rifle and M4 carbine. The police should at least be armed with these, right?
Yes, that is a image of an AR-15 courtesy of Bushmaster’s website, the manufacturer of the firearm Lanza used to kill 26 people in a school. But wait, the bigger weapon always wins, right? So, what’s bigger, badder, meaner than the above rifle? More accurate, a variant of a combat rifle that can easily function as a sniper rifle to hit the assailant in the head, make his body armor completely irrelevant? How about the M1A, Springfield Armory’s civilian variant of the M14 battle rifle, chambered with 7.62 X 51mm (.308 caliber) full power rifle cartridge:
OK, this is getting ridiculous. Semi-automatic civilian variant or not, I wouldn’t be that comfortable seeing someone walking around on the street with a weapon like that, let alone in a school. Is it because I’m naturally afraid of guns? Well, 7.62mm ammunition is capable of doing this:
So yes, I am afraid of something capable of doing that. That’s not even close the worst injury full powered rifle ammunition can generate. Imagine what it would do to a student in an elementary school. Oh, wait…
I bring up the lethality of rifles to make a salient point–gun control debates make too much hay about meaningless language. Terms like “assault weapon, military-style rifle, sporting rifle” completely ignore the fact that is the rifle cartridge itself that makes these firearms deadly. Hunting rifles fire ammunition just as powerful as battle rifles like the M14 and FN SCAR-H, which is considerably more powerful than the ammunition that assault rifles like the M16 and G36 fire. Assault rifles use less powerful rounds due to the fact that studies of World War II small-arms combat showed infantry rifles were overpowered, which doesn’t change the fact that such weapons are brutally efficient at causing massive damage to human tissue, as the AR-15 demonstrated yet again at Sandy Hook.
But again, on many levels it really is too late. The House of Representatives would have to pass legislation to address access to such firearms, but it cannot even pass a gimmick to give the Speaker leverage in negotiations over the “fiscal cliff.” Not to mention the 280 to 300 million firearms in circulation…
Wait a second, why the 20 million disparity? Shouldn’t we have a fairly accurate account of how heavily armed this nation is? I have a theory (naturally): 2,000 a day.
The Mexican government, according to Fortune, estimates that’s the number of firearms smuggled across the U.S./Mexican border daily, a “River of Iron.” The most common weapons smuggled? AR-15 and AK-47 rifles.
The Mexican drug war is a huge business opportunity for American arms manufacturers. Arming thousands of police to guard every school in the United States would be a huge business opportunity for American arms manufacturers. It is almost as if the NRA’s proposal has manufacturers in mind…