Three things were wrong with Wayne LaPierre’s speech on behalf of the National Rifle Association. Some of us are members of the NRA, by the way, while some of us are not. Even so, and even though the NRA tends to side with conservatives on firearm issues, there are three bones of contention that conservatives should have with Lapierre’s statements.
First, he blames video games for inspiring gun violence. This is so outlandish as to be laughable: blaming a first-person shooter for encouraging kids to shoot at people is utterly unfounded on any recent research. While the theory is sound—shooting simulated bad guys on a screen could well desensitize youth against the horrors of a real killing—it is based on very faulty suppositions. Pulling a trigger on a wireless controller is not the same as pulling a trigger on a real firearm: on a real firearm, the sudden shock and noise and flash is going to snap anyone out of a desensitized trance. This is as absurd as claiming a watching a television program about thunderstorms will desensitive a kid from the startling shock of a real-life M-80 firecracker going off five feet away. LaPierre should take some defensive shooting courses, such as those offered by the NRA, to learn how completely different a simulation is from the actual thing. In fact, blaming a video game for violence is as stupid as, well, blaming the gun. And he should be sensitive to that.
Second, another thing LaPierre should be sensitive about is his preposterous and grotesque suggestion to register those with mental illnesses. This is beyond satire: if anyone should want to resist any form of registration, it’s a gun owner. And there is something more sinister about registering human beings on something so suggestive. Is registering a person who might have a mental illness that far off from registering them due to their religion? Their race? Their ancestry? The idea is so anti-American that it’s lunacy; perhaps LaPierre should be number 00000000001 on his registration proposal.
Third, any conservative with the slightest lean to libertarianism should reject the idea of having an armed police officer (at least one) in every school. There are hundreds of thousands of schools in the US; this would mean hiring hundreds of thousands of officers. Perhaps LaPierre is okay with a massive expansion of unionized, government workers with billions in taxpayer dollars, but polls suggest that Americans are pretty much tired of it. Conservatives certainly are.
LaPierre should have waited another week if this is the best he could come up with. He should also realize that NRA members also vote for who will be president of the NRA, and he probably put himself on thin ice Friday.
With all the media coverage, he might have said something more intelligent and better argued.