The quote, following the Sandy Hill massacre, came from Wayne LaPierre, President of The National Rifle Association. It was followed by another series of crazed killings days later, in Rochester New York, by another “bad guy with a gun”.
I began work on this post before the maniacal attacks by William Spengler on firemen in Rochester. Events now pile up, with calls for English chat show host Piers Morgan to be deported for his televised robust arms control position.
It may still be useful to take Mr LaPierre’s statement as a means of framing the on-going agonising debate.
Mark Mardell’s report
The BBC’s foreign correspondent Mark Mardell has followed American politics for many years. He described LaPierre’s press statement:
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has a reputation as perhaps the most powerful lobby group in American politics. There are varying reports on how much it spent during the last election, – some say it was much as $24m), others that it was slightly less. Whatever the number, it was a significant total.
The NRA has more than four million members. Yet its news conference in response to the Newtown massacre felt nothing like the slick product of a group gifted in public relations.
Those who expected emollient words, hints of reasonable compromise and grave consideration of their opponents’ plans were sorely disappointed. Their leader, Wayne LaPierre, harangued the assembled press for over half an hour, impassioned, furious, and not a little eccentric in his fury.
He talked of the way he had endured the mockery of the media, who hated gun owners; he talked of the “filthy pornography” of violent video games and listed some old films. But the core of his argument was: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Support for LaPierre
Mardell suggested that a recent Gallop Poll showed considerable support in America for LaPierre’s views.
A few days later there was Rochester. Christmas 2012 is established as the one which will be remembered as Bloody Christmas.
What about the first amendment?
Meanwhile TV host Piers Morgan [from the UK] outrages what might be called ‘pro-gun’ citizens with his remarks on his chat show in America. Calls for his deportation flooded in to the White House. [Dec 25th-26th 2012] Morgan replied, “what about the right to free speech?” [i.e. the first amendment of the constitution]
The ultimate solution?
After hearing and reading about LaPierre’s position, I tried to understand the cultural map that believes his epithet about good guys with guns as the ultimate solution to problems of violence in the USA or anywhere else. I could not get beyond a different logic which moves me from an image of a heroic guy with a gun thwarting an evil maniac with a gun. My logic kept suggesting that even if it were possible, the placing of armed guards (all “good guys”) in every public space in America will not deal effectively with the next mentally ill person able to get hold of an automatic rifle with the intention of using it.
A Healing New Year?
Maybe not a Happy Christmas, but can we at least hope for a Healing New Year?