NRA Doubles Down on Dumb

Noah Brand responds to Wayne LaPierre’s assertion that the answer to keeping our kids safe is a ‘Good Guy’ with a gun.

The NRA announced earlier this week that today’s press conference would unveil their bold new ideas to address public concern about guns in the wake of the Newtown massacre.

Instead, they didn’t do that at all.

Wayne LaPierre started out well, with this:

How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?

Well hey, that’s a question I’ve been raising myself. Lay it on us, Wayne, what’s a sensible solution that we know works?

As parents, we do everything we can to keep our children safe. It is now time for us to assume responsibility for their safety at school.
The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Um, no. That’s not… no. We’ve field-tested this one, Wayne. That’s actually one of the solutions we know doesn’t work. The two things that have stopped previous spree killers have primarily been suicide and law enforcement. (Or as you know it, Big Government.)

Now, to be fair, I’m skipping over a lot of LaPierre’s remarks. He does spend a couple pages talking about how the world is full of evil, inhuman monsters who don’t have human feelings any more because they played video games. I was eliding over that out of politeness; I mean, if I’d said something that stupid, I wouldn’t want people bringing it up publicly–would you?

Some might ask why I think LaPierre deserves such courtesy, but I strive for empathy even with the most obnoxious. Honestly, the man’s in an unenviable position. He can’t propose anything other than throwing more guns at the problem; he’d be fired in an instant if he did. He’s gone too far down that particular path to turn back, and so there he is, standing up in front of the whole world and proposing something that’s known to be unworkable and stupid. How can you not feel a little bad for him?

There was a time when the NRA could talk honestly about viable gun control ideas, but thanks in part to LaPierre, that time is long past. Now all they can do is stick to what doesn’t work and desperately try to create a decoy with video games because that sort of worked back in ’99. It’d be laughable if it weren’t so serious.

So, since the NRA isn’t going to be part of any serious grownup conversation on the subject, we’re going to have to figure out what works without them. Let’s get to it.

Picture: dok1/Flickr

About Noah Brand

Noah Brand is a writer and editor, and quite possibly also a cartoon character from the 1930s. His life, when it is written, will read better than it lived. He is usually found in Portland, Oregon, directly underneath a very nice hat.


  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Archy. Mass shooters seem to be determined and good at forethought and planning. Locking up guns probably won’t help. And checking on the obedience to the mandate would be a problem.
    KKZ. You’re projecting. OTOH, if somebody has a flat tire (METAPHOR ALERT) and doesn’t have a spare, we think they’ve neglected a normal part of life. If they go around telling people it’s wrong to carry a spare and then see themselves flat and spareless, our attitude may be different. If they go around telling people having a spare is wrong but, when they have a flat, also have a spare–Diane Feinstein has a CCW and a number of left/lib anti-gun celebs have armed body guards-then, hell yes they deserve what they get.
    Is it responsible to know first aid? If so, by definition, it’s irresponsible not to. METAPHOR ALERT.
    If carrying a gun is responsible, then not carrying is irresponsible–see above–or carrying a gun is a different thing. Your choice.

    Saw a report that mass shootings ended by law enforcement showing up–eventually–averages about fourteen dead. Mass shootings ended by armed citizens already on the spot average 2.5 dead. That’s why demogogues can say, show me a mass shooting ended by an armed citizen. Can’t, can you? See?
    Point is, if an armed citizen is already there, the mass shooting barely gets started.
    I figure the numbers tell a story.
    So do we go with the numbers or do we ignore them because guns are icky.
    As to small schools without CCW on staff. Probably can’t afford a permanent guard, either. Might have to ask for volunteers. I expect small schools don’t have extended hours for activities, so you might be able to come up with enough retirees or others who can take a slot here and there. Better than nothing.
    At least take down the sign that says, “Shoot here. Nobody will shoot back for at least a quarter of an hour.”

  2. Mandate that guns must be locked up in one cabinet, ammo in another and you’ll probably save quite a few lives. Adding additional time to get the gun, then the ammo, not to mention finding the key n walking to the safe could give enough time to let cooler heads prevail if tempers are flared. It may have even meant this killer may not have had the ar15.

  3. How about every school keeps a pack of dogs somewhere on campus? Once an intruder enters the school, the principal utters the simple phrase, “Release the hounds!” Or we could booby trap schools with tripwires and flamethrowers to protect the children. Nothing could go wrong.

  4. There are several examples where an trained and armed invidual has stopped an amok run. Like for some examples: Arvada missionary shooting, Bar shooting in Winnemucca Nevada the Oregon mall shooting and the latest case Theater Shooting in San Antonio this week, ect…
    Sure a weapon you are not capable of using is only an risk for yourself.
    But I think that the idea was letting trained law abiding inviduals bring guns to potential targets.
    Besides claiming that we are pathetic cowards who are unable to act according to our training while confronted with an poorly equipped and poorly trained invidual is somewhat insulting.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    People don’t like the feeling of powerlessness. Rather than something just happening, they want to think they can at least affect the probability.
    Some folks get really into diet fads. They want to control what’s happening. I knew people with high blood pressure who were really into no salt. Just about the time Nanny Bloomberg got all salty in NYC, turns out it doesn’t make any difference in the majority of the hypertension cases. But people want control.
    See cargo cults.
    With school shootings, they want to “do something”, or as you may hear, “just do something”, which implies they don’t much care what as long as something is done. Something must be done or the feeling of powerlessness returns. And once something is done, questioning the efficicacy is a non-starter.

    • It’s pretty sad though. Is the idea to stop murder or just stop massacres? Are there not like..10000% more murders with non-assault rifles? Seems like an awfully big reaction to one event when thousands upon thousands go on without as much focus. This year I am sure I’ve read more than 20+ murder suicides where a parent (both male or female) have shot their kids, and the number of homicides against adults is stupidly high. So why not ban guns if people are so ready to take action over one event that sadly is a drop in the ocean in numbers compared to worldwide murder rates. Is it simply because kids were involved?

      To me it appears like a massive reaction to one case. If the below link is legit, then in a week or 2 since the shooting already a few kids have been killed by guns and a whole lot of adults, one site says over 100 per day! and up to 100k this year alone in the U.S. which is what, 4000% more than this massacre? Suicides are up to 60% apparently, so what’s that, just under 2000% more than this massacre?

      To me it sounds more like peace of mind that people won’t see a massacre again, but when it’s 1-2 people per incident it seems to go under the radar. I guess single/double homicides are so common that people are use to them, but a massacre, of kids no less, ZOMG ban ze guns. I’ve seen so many kneejerk ban the gun messages on facebook recently meanwhile 100+ die per day from guns and I never saw any of the folks on my facebook crack a stink over that. I’m sure more than 100 kids have been killed this year even, so why is the massacre so hugely different?

  6. I sure love knee jerk reactions. Are they going to ban alcohol now because it kills and injures more people than guns? Or is saving lives not the issue but stopping the rare massacres?

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    The security you mention is not free. It might be less than an on-duty, full-pay cop, but it’s not free.
    And there’s a hell of a distance between CCW and any rambo with a gun fetish. Among other things, CCW folks commit fewer violent crimes than do cops. More, so far as we know, than cloistered nuns.
    Hell, take down the shoot-here signs and don’t change anything else. Cheapest and might deter one nut in a hundred.

    • Richard, I’m not saying my idea IS the solution. Just perhaps part of it. If a solution is to be found, I believe it will in fact be SEVERAL ‘good ideas’ working in tandem (although what they might be, I haven’t a clue!). A national ‘wepons ban’effect would be very liminited. It would have to be WORLDWIDE to be somewhat effective. Because simply put, if you can’t manufacture or leaglly sell a wepon here, people who really want them will just get them from China, India, etc. Since many Police Officers retire at a airly young age (around here they can collect a pension after 20 years on thejob) They would be somewhere in their 40’s or early 50’s. If you offer say 50K a ‘school year’ (about 180 working days) which , by the way, is about the starting salry of a school teacher, as a supplement to a pension, I don’t know, I mean I’d jump at it!

  8. OK,lets put personalities and personel predudice aside and lookat POSSIBLE security solutions for he most innnocent place on earth (Elementary Schools!) In my district (William Floyd ) I happen to know a lot of security personal to be in fact, retired or moonlighting Police and Correction Officers. In other words, those licensed ‘to carry’. Look I’m ot saying this is an absolute answer, just a possibility worth pursuring. I’m not saying lets give every ‘yahoo’ with a ‘Rambo’ fetish a working gun. Let’s just CONSIDER letting a person already licensed to carry and with Peace Officer status be available .

  9. “As James Brady, Ronald Reagan’s former press secretary cum gun control advocate, often notes, he was shot along with the president, despite the fact that they were surrounded by dozens of heavily armed and well-trained Secret Service agents and police.”

  10. Noah,

    If you are going to be fair, you should acknowledge that what LaPierre actually proposed was not armed civilians, such as the Mother Jones article you linked discusses.

    What was actually proposed was immediate local police presence until such time as trained and qualified armed security personnel could be put in place.

    The safety of our children, and resolving the issues within our society which lead to their endangerment are critical issues here.
    Any proposed solutions to resolve them should be given full and thorough examination.
    To do any less is disrespectful.

    • Richard Aubrey says:


      IMO, LaPierre is playing a long game. Once the cost of permanent, sworn police on site is discovered, it won’t happen. But, as I say, the concept of an armed good guy on site will have been validated as the only way. It’s for the chilrun.
      Which leaves either no armed good guy on site, or the CCW licensees among the staff and parents or vendors who happen to be visiting.
      IOW, no more “Shoot here, nobody’s going to shoot back for at least a quarter of an hour.” zones.

      • Ok, so while we’re playing Impossible Hypotheses… what about a school that doesn’t have any concealed carriers already on staff? I’m thinking a small school, maybe a preschool or a K-2 in a small district, where it’s statistically plausible. Seems like it would be dangerous or irresponsible of the school to not have a Good Guy with a Gun among its staff in your proposed system.

        There’s a subliminal message I get from gun owners/advocates all the time. Amid talk of responsible gun ownership there is an undercurrent, barely acknowledged and rarely spoken openly (at least in my circles), that gun ownership itself is responsible. That it’s better to be armed and prepared for the worst than it is to be unarmed. Think about it: the flipside of “I have a gun in my home (or school) for self-defense” is “and anyone who doesn’t is naive and vulnerable.” Taken to the extreme, it’s the idea that those who don’t arm themselves, or those who create gun-free zones, deserve whatever happens to them. Maybe I’m just projecting here, but I’ve gotten that sense before.

  11. You do realize that the law enforcement you credit with ending shootings is exactly who he wants to put in schools, right?

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Not sure what your point is. The cops who ended the shootings took, afaik, in Newtown, twenty minutes to get there. Point is to be there already.
      As the unfortunately impeccably accurate bitter clingers say, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

      • My point is that what LaPierre is advocating for is police officers *in* each school. I mean, I don’t think that’s a practical solution, but if Noah is going to bang on that cops are the only ones who can end these shootings (false, but OK) then it seems wrongheaded to mock the NRA’s suggestion to put cops closer to the target.

        I’m fine with teachers carrying if they want to. I’d prefer that to cops, actually, since the teachers could conceal and not freak out the kids. *But* if you believe, as Noah seems to, that we’re all helpless before madmen unless we’re cops, it seems that the NRA’s suggestion to put cops in schools actually makes some sense.

  12. Jonathan G says:

    His solution sounds essentially like Sen. Barbara Boxer’s solution: more guns.

  13. Richard Aubrey says:

    There are always guys like LaPierre. They are so logical, so obviously dealing with the only possible answer–and they’re icky–that you could just kill them.
    The problems are so multivalent and beyond simple solution that they’re infinitely frustrating. And the only answer involves precisely the thing we don’t like. Hate the most.
    Can you even stand it?
    There are no laws–Penn State’s study on the assault weapon ban agreed it was mostly useless and irrelevant to mass shootings–which in the real world will make a difference. So that leaves, got to make you fume, LaPierrre’s answer.
    The cop in every school is a stalking horse. Once you agree it’s impossible, the concept, an armed good guy, is accepted. That means letting CCW carriers who happen to be on staff carry in school, as they do most places without making trouble. And no charge, either.
    Yeah, suicide and cops stop the shooting. But, as happened in Sandy Hook, the latter took twenty minutes, which is odd for such a small town. And as happened in most other places, sucide happens when the cops show up, which as happened in Sandy Hook, can take quite a mortal while.
    So that leaves ordinary, trained, checked, certified citizens with their legal CCW permit being armed in school.
    See, for example, Pearl, MS. Appalachian School of Law. Trolley Square Mall. And a mega church in CO in which the shooter got shot before he barely got started.
    See? The only answer is LaPierre’s. It is not to be stood.

  14. Joanna Schroeder says:

    And how about the fact that a “bad guy” was reportedly walking up and down a road in Pennsylvania during their press conference shooting people apparently randomly? Four dead, three state troopers injured.

    And I don’t know about all your kids’ public schools, but at MY kids’ public school they can barely keep the f’ing doors open because of budget cuts. Not to mention that, if someone is intent upon killing children, the guard at the front door isn’t going to stop him. Chain link fences aren’t hard to climb, even in your fucking body armor with your Bushmaster strapped to your back.

    Yes, let’s make our schools as safe as humanly possible. And let’s get some real, reasonable, sane gun control in place. But let’s not expect that there’s always going to be a “good guy” waiting on every residential road preparing to sharpshoot a Bad Guy who decided to kill a bunch of random strangers.



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