Little Wayne: Few are buying the crazy NRA gun-toting message - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Little Wayne: Few are buying the crazy NRA gun-toting message

Man, I hate to admit it here, but I was wrong. Or, at least, not completely correct.

In my post from Friday I predicted what NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre would say in the speech he gave about “meaningful” contributions to the issue of mass killings like we saw at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. I don’t think anyone seriously expected LaPierre to propose any new gun laws, even though some TV talkers expressed surprise when LaPierre didn’t. Really? Did you people actually think the most visible spokesman of the National Rifle Association was going to propose new laws restricting any guns and ammunition?

No, no one thought Wayne LaPierre would propose legislation that would negatively affect his patrons in the firearms and ammunition industry. So, let’s dispense with the fiction that some people thought that’s what LaPierre meant by “meaningful” contributions.

What LaPierre did was blame gun violence on everything but under-restricted firearms. Many people, myself included, expected LaPierre to bring up mental health. He did. LaPierre proposed a national registry for people with mental health issues. Okay … people like me maybe who, 14 years ago, under a psychiatrist’s direction, was taking Prozac? I was no threat to anyone, including myself, but feeling depressed I consulted a psychiatrist who proposed the use of medication.

Would a registry include women going through severe post-partum depression and getting treatment for it? Women who need medication to get through that terrible condition? How about people who, as children, were given medication for things like Attention Deficit Disorder?

Years ago I used to visit people in the psychiatric ward of the V.A. hospital. It could be very heartbreaking at times listening to these people share their lives with us, but I don’t recall ever thinking any of them could or would commit a mass killing, They were locked up for sure, but mainly because they were a danger to themselves, primarily because they engaged in self-destructive behavior. Very few of them actually tried to literally kill themselves in one single act of desperation. But I guess we could make the case at least some of them would need to be on a registry of mentally ill.

Forget the teachers, Wayne. Let's just arm the kids. Is that the next presser?

Forget the teachers, Wayne. Let’s just arm the kids. Is that the next presser?

So, Wayne LaPierre trotted out the mentally ill. That’s a serious problem in this country, but not for the reasons LaPierre stated. In fact, the mentally ill are eleven times more likely to be victims of violence than other Americans. How we treat mental health issues is appalling. It’s stigmatized to such a degree that most people are afraid to ask for help for fear of being ostracized, cut out of society and passed over for the best jobs.

And with this renewed interest on “crazy” people in relation to these mass murders, the stigma is growing even bigger. People with mental health issues commit about three percent of the violent crimes in this nation. So, blaming violent crimes like mass shootings on mental health isn’t really the whole answer.

Here’s the part I missed when predicting what Wayne LaPierre gave his little speech Friday: he also blamed the media and Hollywood. Now that LaPierre said it I’m like, “How could I have missed those?”

LaPierre has always blamed the media of course. The news organizations are that Big Leftwing, “Lamestream” Media conspiracy and they all hate Wayne LaPierre and the NRA. We hold these delusions to be self-evident: the media is out to get him.

In this latest diatribe LaPierre said that because the media reports the news, news organizations share the blame for these mass killings. Seriously. Here’s what LaPierre said: “How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark? A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?”

NRAkidsNRAThe most horrific mass shooting in decades (and that’s saying a lot considering the epidemic pace of mass killings), one that stirs the horror in every American deeper than any previous horrors have twisted our emotions and the media should what? Give it a one time, three-minute segment on the evening news? Sandy Hook was an event that shocked everyone, including the most jaded, cynical people in society. “We” demanded the attention of the news be on Newtown, CT and the news organizations delivered.

In the interest of full disclosure, I stopped watching the news the Saturday after Adam Lanza murdered 27 people and then killed himself. It was too much. Instead I watched Turner Classic Movies, American Movie Classics, ESPN and Comedy Central; or I turned off the TV. Yes, for many people the coverage became too much, but the majority of Americans wanted to know … what “we” wanted to know was vague, or even unknown, but we wanted to know. Why did he do it? That was the primary question and we are still haunted by the unknowing, randomness of what most people call a senseless act.

nra protest

Little Wayne, hey maybe you are the crazy one.

Today, now nine days after that terrible day, we are still talking about the murders. In his remarks at the memorial in Newtown on December 16th, President Obama read the names of all the shooter’s victims; we had to see that and remember the children who died and the teachers and school officials who gave their lives trying to save those kids. News organizations can’t just decide not to broadcast that event just because some people think the coverage is too much, or that some would rather be watching a football game.

The other culprits in all this, according to LaPierre, are the video games. I’m one who doesn’t play video games and the last shoot’em up video game I played was Doom, back in the late 1990’s. Yep, they are gory and splash blood, guts and brains all over the screen and shoot’em ups are generally the most popular video games on the market.

In the interest of full disclosure: what red-blooded heterosexual male doesn’t like watching Lara Croft raid tombs? It’s a shoot’em up with a sexual twist. They even made a couple Tomb Raider movies, with the stunning Angelina Jolie as the iconic Lara Croft.

  • I played that one too, back in the day.

Now many games incorporate sexy damsels in distress and sexy damsels as primary characters who shoot the guns, throw the grenades and wield the head-splitting machetes and swords. Bloody, violent video games are now equal opportunity.

And video games are getting more violent and graphic with each passing day, excessively so according to many of us. They have video games that allow players to be Navy SEALs or Special Ops characters. Pretty exciting stuff for any teen.

And you are blaming mental illness?

And you are blaming mental illness?

But is that why shooters go out and commit mass murder? There’s actually no data to support that thesis. None. Other societies, like Canada, Great Britain, Germany, etc, have these very same video games, yet those countries don’t suffer the same level of violence in their societies. So, many of us may not like violent video games, but they aren’t a precursor to violent behavior.

Then there are the violent movies and television shows. LaPierre spotted them out as a part of the problem. Everybody loved watching Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and his successor, Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner. Or Neo. Man, I wanna be Neo (Keanu Reeves). He has a much better wardrobe than either Jason Bourne or Aaron Cross. At least when he’s in the Matrix. Some people would rather be Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) or maybe even Smith (Hugo Weaving), but I’m sticking with Neo. Or maybe Seraph (Collin Chou).

We see these blockbusters that show stuff getting blowed up real good, cars jumping over more cars (good hydraulics, eh!) and big tough guys like Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, one-handing a big ole’ SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) as he brings all them bad guys to justice. Violence and mayhem sell on the big and little screens and dammit! It’s fun to watch!

But of the millions of people that spend billions of dollars to watch those movies and TV shows, how many actually jump out at a Batman midnight premiere and open fire on a crowded movie theater? Just one so far. There’s no data to suggest violent films lead to mass killings. Other countries see these same films but don’t have the gun death rate of the United States.

We have a violent culture that’s for sure, but there’s no evidence that our violence-prone entertainment leads to crime.

The big problem Wayne LaPierre sees in the U.S. is this: we don’t have enough guns in the hands of enough people. LaPierre’s big suggestion, his “meaningful” contribution to the problem of mass shootings was this: arm the teachers; put armed police in every school in America.

She's got a point. We had armed guards at schools and it didn't work.

She’s got a point. We had armed guards at schools and it didn’t work.

It isn’t a new idea at all. LaPierre and the NRA have been advocating that idea for years. If there had been armed guards at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th the shooter wouldn’t have succeeded in killing so many people. Maybe … but something Senator Diane Feinstein pointed out on Friday shoots down LaPierre’s suggestion: When the two killers went on their rampage at Columbine High School in 1999 there were two armed police officers at the school that engaged the two shooters. The shooters still managed to kill 13 people and injure 21 others before killing themselves.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” That’s at best a simple-minded solution. Sounds good though and brings back memories of the TV show, “Gunsmoke.”

One of the problems law enforcement encountered at Columbine was that they didn’t know who “they” were, or even how many shooters might be involved. The two police officers encountered only one shooter outside who escaped injury by running into the school. The chaotic nature of shootings like Columbine and Sandy Hook can make it extremely difficult to figure out who and where the bad guys are before they start killing the innocents.

nypost_20121222_03_001_C_3Most everyone found LaPierre’s comments on Friday to be at least tone deaf, if not down right offensive and ignorant. The Conservative New York Post called LaPierre a “GUN NUT!” in its headline. Mainly for incendiary comments like this: “Politicians pass laws for gun free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And, in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

Few people, a very few, support the idea of putting armed guards in schools. Most Americans consider the very idea antithetical to American values. And studies have shown that armed security guards (or police) in schools inhibit the learning experience of students. And of course in the mass shootings where armed guards and police were present proves armed guards are of little value in mass shootings.

There was so much backlash against LaPierre, including politicians supportive of the NRA, the advocates of gun legislation thought his comments would help in their cause. That remains to be seen of course. A politician can say one thing in front of a camera and microphone, but do something entirely different when it comes to crafting and passing legislation.

The best line of defense, most people agree, is to keep the guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have guns. Especially assault weapons and 20 and 30-round magazines and 100-round drums. Banning assault weapons would be problematic considering there are millions legally in circulation, but banning magazines and drums that hold more than 10 rounds could actually get passed and have an effect on the outcomes of these shootings.

Then of course closing the loopholes in gun registration would do a lot. Currently 40 percent of guns purchased “legally” in this country do not have to be registered. And currently 35 states do not comply with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

LaPierre was on Meet the Press with David Gregory Sunday Morning and to no one’s surprise, LaPierre didn’t back off his position on gun control one iota. The problem, according to LaPierre, has nothing to do with the types of guns, the ammunition or the capacity of ammo clips. It’s everything else, despite the evidence to the contrary.

lapierre-mtp

No backing down for Little Wayne – still crazy after all these years with the NRA.

But this was an interesting quirk in the LaPierre interview. He at first came out adamantly against trying to close the “gun show loophole” and then told David Gregory the federal government needs to do a better job of enforcing the federal background check law — and he said the NRA would stand behind that. One of the commentators on the panel that came on later, Andrea Mitchell, found LaPierre’s promise to stand behind a big change from the NRA’s previous positions on the federal background check.

Indeed it was, considering just minutes before LaPierre had dismissed better enforcement of the registration laws. What side of the issue are you on, Wayne? I’m surprised Gregory didn’t follow up on this line of discussion once LaPierre reversed himself.

At one point when Gregory got specific about gun violence in schools, LaPierre talked about going after common criminals; the thieves, rapists and “common” murderers. His answers had nothing to do with stopping mass shootings. He sang the same old tired tune the NRA has been singing for 20 years. Except now they have former congressman and head of the DEA and under secretary of Homeland Security Administration, Asa Hutchison leading the NRA’s goal of putting armed guards in every school.

The only thing meaningful to come from Wayne LaPierre’s appearances on television this weekend has been a strengthening of the resolve of those who hope to limit the sale of assault weapons and military-style ammunition magazines. Maybe in that regard Wayne LaPierre did America a great service, because very few are buying the message he’s peddling.





About the author

Tim Forkes

Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality. Contact the author.
COMMENT POLICY

5 Comments

  1. tombarnes says:

    I lived in Notheast DC for over 20 years. When I lived there they had THE most restrictive gun laws in the nation. You could not buy a handgun, all guns were to be stored unloaded.
    I never felt safe on the street because I knew the bad guys did not care at all about some printed words in a book.

    But for people who do care about the printed word,
    this law review,”Of Holocausts and Gun Control,75
    Wash.U.L.Q. 1237(online)” raises some interesting points such as this:

    “but it is nevertheless an arresting reality that not
    one of the principal genocides of the twentieth century, and there have been
    dozens, has been inflicted on a population that was armed.”

    http://lawreview.wustl.edu/inprint/75-3/753-4.html

    What most gun control advocates want is a government
    controlled monopoly on lethal violence. Then the dangerous assumption they are
    positing is that the government, although it changes hands every four or two or
    six years will always be benign. Remember, the pendulum swings and the
    government you like today can be the tyrant who hates you, and your kind,
    tomorrow. Ask the Jewish people of WW2 Europe or the Armenians in Turkey or how
    about the Cambodians of the seventies if they thought their governing apparatus
    was going to turn on them lethally?

    Do you want that tyrant to have a monopoly on lethal
    violence?

    That is the very point of military style weapons in the
    hands of many many civilians, there will be no Holocaust of a disarmed minority
    if there is no monopoly. You want at least a duopoly on the use of lethal
    violence and yes, it is messy but there is no Utopia, and never will be. I
    think Samuel Butler called it Erewhon or Nowhere.

    Also R.J. Rummel wrote a book, online called” Death by
    government” where he enumerates the
    170 million deaths by government(he calls it Democide) in the 20th Century.

    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM

    Reply
  2. Desertrat says:

    Charles Whitman murdered his wife and his mother with a hunting knife. The next two deaths were via a single-shot shotgun which he had made into a pistol. After brief use of a WW II GI Carbine with a 15-round magazine, he then used a bolt-action Remington 6mm hunting rifle with a four-power scope for the majority of his kills. He killed a man who was standing in the open, some fifty feet from me, at 420 yards.

    Guards in schools? As sprawling as are so many schools, by the time a guard could rush to the scene, many could be dead. An armed teacher would at least have a chance to end hostile action early-on. Not perfect, but better than anything I’ve heard suggested–if prevention is the desire.

    Reply
  3. May you be well... says:

    You say, “The best line of defense, most people agree, is to keep the guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have guns. Especially assault weapons and 20 and 30-round magazines and 100-round drums. Banning assault weapons would be problematic considering there are millions legally in circulation, but banning magazines and drums that hold more than 10 rounds could actually get passed and have an effect on the outcomes of these shootings.” Perhaps you actually believe that will have some effect preventing or mitigating mass shootings. Have you ever heard of Charles Whitman? He did not have murderous 30 round magazines nor did he have an eveil assault rifle.
    You mock Wayne LaPierre, yet can you provide an example where a law prevented a crime? Because as far as I know the law only kicks in to punish a crime once it has been comitted. Laws don’t make good people good. His idea to place armed staff in schools has solid logic. Your idea that a law provides magical protection does not.
    I cannot recall a mass shooting that concluded prior to armed resistance arriving on the scene. Certainly the trend is that armed resistance arrives and THEN- the shooter gives up, is apprehended or kills himself. Columbine had an armed guard you say. Fair enough. He was not very well trained either.
    It’s interesting that you rail against his idea of his idea for a mental health database. I sense that you feel that your personal liberty is threatened. So do I. However your logic proceeds by saying, “I was no threat to anyone, including myself, but feeling depressed I consulted a psychiatrist who proposed the use of medication.” I own property that you believe should be illegal to own, yet I am no threat to anyone.
    So then, following your logic, if my magazines are banned, for everyone’s safety, similarly you should be logged in the database of mental health. Just so we know you took prozac or something, and the diagnosis, depression or something… Look it’s fpr the kids. We have to DO SOMETHING. Yes I agree, but as you can see it is easy to do something. LIke make a database. Like Ban an object. It is much harder to be understanding, and sensitive to anothers point of view different from your own. It is harder to be committed to remain focused to persist in finding a path to the desirable outcome.
    If we look at bullying, if we look at cultural conflict and conversation, if we look at mental health, and spirituality… we see that there are many ways we need to come together, but every major influence is splitting us into 2 groups in conflict, along lines of some media driven agenda. People need to understand that gun owners do not want children or anyone to die. Everyone has the general welfare in mind.The NRA is a bad place to start the conversation, because they represent gun manufacturers more than any group. So the Brady campaign always attacks them. Why? Just take it to the people, not lobbyists. Neither of these groups has it right, yet they drive the dialog. It is the same on mental health. Pharmaceutical companies have no interest in therapy becoming the primary means of treating depression. Let alone meditation. There is no money in that.
    I want to help, give time, participate, make a differnece, talk to outcasts build a community that doesn’t let bullies thrive. Stand up to indifference. Not wait for someone elses to do something. If we all chip in in this way, that is what can make a difference. IF one person says that will never work… 15 will agree so they can all stay lazy. F*ing sad…

    Reply
  4. Desertrat says:

    I’ll just leave it that the entertainment industry glorifies violence, and has for decades. Make of it what you will.

    As for guns in schools, the Israelis discovered the solution some sixty years ago. Teachers and students regularly had to deal with armed intruders who were intent on killing them. After the teachers were encouraged to be armed and trained, the schools were no longer soft targets. The Arab infiltrators from the refugee camps in Lebanon were not all that eager to die, and the raiding came to at least a near halt.

    Police provide janitorial services after the fact. People are killed long before the police can arrive.

    The type of firearm is irrelevant. Excitement over ugly guns is foolish. Semi-automatic firearms have been around for over a century. You can now make them via 3D printing.

    As far as people and viewpoints, note that since 1999, there have been 160 million NICS checks. 16.5 million last year and 21 million so far this year. That’s no small minority in our population.

    I suggest looking into the problems in our mental health system. The judicial decisions of the 1980s, releasing so many out into the general population, caused the closing of many facilities and a nationwide reduction in trained staff. We now rely overmuch on prescribing psychotropic drugs with their unintended side effects and after effects.

    But the problem is not guns.

    Reply
  5. Dick Rickley says:

    The entire entertainment industry is a complete and utter waste of space. Lets ban that.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Comment Policy

HOME / ABOUT / CONTACT / JOIN THE TEAM / TERMS OF SERVICE / PRIVACY POLICY / COMMENT POLICY