Following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the debate on gun control has continued gathering steam. Many meetings, media appearances, and statements have come out on the issue. Some of the most insane things have come from the National Rifle Association itself. Check out what Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA and spokeswoman Dana Loesch had to say on the issue. President Donald Trump made a memorable statement, too. (Page 15).
1. Gun laws restrict the law-abiding
LaPierre told the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that liberals want to guns away from everyday people. He said,
What they want are more restrictions on the law-abiding … Think about that — their solution is to make you, all of you, less free.
While gun control could result in making it harder for average citizens to obtain some types of guns, LaPierre slightly exaggerates the intent of the movement.
Next: He also got fired up about the Second Amendment.
2. They will contribute to lost freedoms
According to LaPierre, the Second Amendment defends every American’s right to bear arms. The executive promised the NRA would happily work with schools to make them safer, but believes controlling guns will lead to less freedom. LaPierre said,
If they seize power … our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever. Socialism is a movement that loves a smear.
In other words, LaPierre blames left-leaning citizens for pushing for gun reform. Many on the right also support the movement, including staunch Republicans.
Next: He also pointed out this language issue.
3. Is ‘gun’ really a bad word?
The head of the NRA took issue with blanket statements regarding guns. He said,
But since when did the gun automatically become a bad word? A gun in the hands of a secret service agent protecting our president isn’t a bad word … The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
He pointed out that, in an emergency, he would prefer having a person with a gun close at hand to respond. However, he failed to mention the school resource officer — or good guy with a gun — who failed to stop the Marjory Douglas shooter.
Next: The gun rights advocate also does not agree with gun-free zones.
4. Schools provide safe spaces to enact mayhem
If you ask LaPierre, keeping guns out of schools actually makes them more dangerous. He said,
Politicians pass laws for gun-free school zones. They issue press release 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.
On the contrary, Mother Jones conducted a study on that very issue. It found that, among 62 mass shootings over the last 30 years, not a single case includes evidence that the killer targeted a gun-free zone. Instead, they usually choose places where they work, go to school, or have other personal ties.
Next: The NRA head also addressed the issue of copycat killers.
5. Copycat killers just wait for the next opportunity
During one point in his speech, LaPierre pointed out the media’s coverage of mass shootings. He posited that copycats just want the attention,
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 they crave?
He actually does have a point there. According to Mother Jones, the shooter at Umpqua Community College had posted comments expressing admiration for a previous killer. “His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems like the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”
Next: The NRA executive took the media to task in a different way, as well.
6. Video games and movies glamorize violence
The American Psychological Association said research demonstrated a link “between violent video game use and both increases in aggressive behavior … and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy, and moral engagement.” The American Academy of Pediatrics warned that violence in video games “teaches children to associate pleasure and success with their ability to cause pain and suffering to others.” LaPierre pointed this out when he said,
There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people through vicious and violent video games. We have blood-soaked films out there … that are aired like propaganda loops on splatter days. a thousand music videos that portray life as a joke and murder as a way of life.
However, some experts say the kids who display aggressive tendencies after playing violent games may have a predisposition to that behavior, in the first place. Some also say violent video games may help reduce violence, because they keep kids off the streets and out of trouble.
Next: LaPierre also pledged dedication to another method of prevention.
7. Armed guards will help prevent shootings
Despite evidence that armed guards do not prevent mass shootings, LaPierre called on lawmakers to enact just that. He said,
I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed officers in every single school in this nation. With all the foreign aid the United State does…can’t we afford to put a police officer in every single school?
In fact, engaging with armed guards might provide part of the fantasy, for many shooters. “Because many offenders are suicidal and expect to be shot and killed, they wouldn’t be deterred by places with armed guards or gun-toting citizens,” said criminologist Adam Lankford. Many actually target heavily-armed government buildings or military facilities.
Next: The NRA executive also conflated these two very different forces.
8. Gun violence and natural disasters both create a national nightmare
While many factors contribute to the national climate, LaPierre’s logic did not particularly follow when he pointed out a frightening statistic. He said,
Violent crime is increasing again for the first time in 19 years! Add another hurricane, terrorist attack or some other natural or man-made disaster, and you’ve got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization.
Violent crime rates actually have increased every year since 2015, according to FBI statistics. That said, it did not rise universally nationwide; in some cities, crime rates actually went down or remained static.
Next: The following two forces also do not necessarily go together, either.
9. Gun violence is just like pornography
LaPierre also shamed those who enjoy watching violence in TV or movies, as well as violent video games. He said,
Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?
Most people, however, do not consume violent media for the violence. It exists instead as part of the artistic context. “That violence fits within the world of the storytelling,” Fox chairman Dana Walden told Entertainment Weekly.
Next: LaPierre also holds the news media accountable for violence.
10. The media enables gun violence
LaPierre called out the news media for playing what he considers an active role in mass shootings. “Too many in the national media, their corporate owners and their stockholders act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators,” he said. He added,
In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes — every minute of every day of every month of every year.
Granted, some mass shooting copycats have cited notoriety as an impetus for their crimes. That said, other factors certainly come into play, as well.
Next: He also considers this activity a waste of time.
11. Debating legislation just wastes time
When it comes to responding to mass shooting, LaPierre acknowledges that time matters. He said,
We can’t lose precious time debating legislation that won’t work.
While researchers agree that no one law can eliminate mass shootings, some policies might help. New York Times researchers found that restricting gun sales to anyone found guilty of a violent crime could help reduce gun violence. In addition, expanding background checks for gun purchasers could also make a difference. Congress considered the idea in 2013, but failed to win enough votes to sign it into law.
Next: LaPierre got very heated about his adversaries, during his speech.
12. The media hates freedom
The NRA has blamed the media for mass shootings before. Shortly after LaPierre’s speech, the NRA released a video blaming the “mainstream media” for school shootings. The speaker echoed that sentiment when he said,
As usual the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for gain. [The media and gun control advocates] hate the NRA, they hate the Second Amendment, they hate individual freedom.
Some saw the response in a different light. Mass shooting expert Jaclyn Schildkraut told Vox, “LaPierre is kind of missing the reason why they are speaking in favor of gun control …There’s tons of people around the country that are NRA members that still see the need for background checks and keeping weapons out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” she said.
Next: This NRA spokesperson had another scapegoat in mind.
13. We should blame the FBI for mass shootings
NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) annual event, in which she also addressed the gun control issue. She said,
Washington Navy Yard; Garland, Texas; Ft. Hood; Charleston; Boston; San Bernandino; Orlando; Parkland — do you know what all of these mass tragedy incidents involved? FBI dropped the ball. They dropped the ball.
In at least one case, Loesch makes a good point. The FBI said it did receive tips about Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz. The caller gave information about “Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.” The information should have been assessed as a “potential threat to life,” the bureau said.
Next: She went a little too far with her next statement, however.
14. We need guns because the government can’t keep us safe
Loesch expressed concerns for her own safety, after her speech at a town hall meeting in Parkland. She also said that she needs a gun because the government can’t help her, saying:
The government has proven they cannot keep you safe, and yet some people want all of us to disarm … I had to have a security detail to get out. I wouldn’t have been able to exit that if I did not have a security detail. There were people rushing the stage and screaming ‘burn her.’
Attendees at the event said her reports did not accurately reflect the event itself. “As someone who was there front row, the crowd was not cheering ‘burn her’ as she walked off stage,” one student tweeted. “We yelled ‘shame on you’ instead. Why does she insist on lying? Does she and the NRA feel threatened by us?”
Next: The president also echoed NRA activists with this statement.
15. We need to arm teachers to prevent shootings
Following statements on gun control from the NRA and Parkland activist students, Trump suggested arming teachers. He noted that training them to defend their students could help respond to attacks expediently.
If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly,” he said.
Some already-overloaded teachers pushed back at that idea. “Doesn’t it get to be too much?” Brianne Solomon told The New York Times. The veteran West Virginia teacher supplies food for her students’ families, signs students’ permission slips if parents can’t, and even took one to the eye doctor. “On top of all the things we do, to have to remember when we’re supposed to use a gun?”
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