The Dumbest Thing I Heard This Week

Oh I had plenty of nominees. Charlotte Allen explained how women caused Newtown (and then “defended” herself). Milwaukee’s Sheriff pulled a Ron Swanson and said he’d rather teachers do his job. And then this guy told us it was all the Jews.

But I held out, because the NRA scheduled a news conference for this morning, and I expected something worthy of this column. To recap, the NRA usually responds to school shootings by going entirely radio silent until it blows over. Shutting down their website and Twitter account, and suspending interviews. Indeed, the NRA started out with the same M.O. this time. But apparently they didn’t read my article, or they would’ve realized that breaking with their past practice was the worst thing they could possibly do.

But now they’re back. Wayne “No…I’m not Charlton Heston” LaPierre scheduled a news conference to make a “meaningful contributions” to the national narrative to prevent this tragedy from happening again. Instead, they gave us this:

Yep…”The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Oh dear. As Elie Mystal pointed out this morning, the last time a U.S. president was shot at, the Secret Service captured him without firing a shot. And for good reason, because despite being the best trained body guards in the world, opening fire into a crowd of civilians isn’t a smart solution.

So the answer is a massive increase in education spending to put armed guards in schools. I have no problem with guards. Additional security is fine. But armed guards can’t solve everything. Even banks aren’t defended with machine guns. Our current laws allow random citizens to out gun the best security guards. An AR-15 is incredibly powerful and could kill from long distances and guards can do nothing to stop it. So this is not a panacea. It is however a boondoggle for the NRA’s financiers. It seems as though this time around, people will be quick to call out the cynicism that the primary lobbyist of gun manufacturing thinks that a huge government program to buy more guns is the answer. But we’ll see.

He also blamed violent video games in a surreal aside that came across sadly tone deaf. Indeed, as the author of the linked Kotaku piece points out, it felt as though even LaPierre couldn’t buy the bullshit he was spitting out.

This speech was a PR disaster for the gun lobby. It only served to demonstrate to the dwindling undecided audience that the gun rights emperor wears no clothes. A week to prepare and this is what they came up with? This not only reinforced the narrative that this shooting was “different,” to the extent LaPierre spoke at all, but it trotted out the same tired arguments that no one seems to be buying this time around, which is the only thing the NRA couldn’t afford to do.

And LaPierre needs to understand his own power. As the head of gun lobby, he must understand that this speech will — fairly or not — be juxtaposed to President Obama’s speech on Sunday. Compassion and resolve set up against quiet detachment and gimmicks. If you’re the NRA and you don’t think LaPierre can top Obama then you need to say nothing.

The NRA used to understand this, but this time really is different.

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