On Sunday's Meet the Press, host David Gregory welcomed talking bumper sticker and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association Wayne LaPierre for a brief one-on-one softball interview. If you've been following along with how each and every American gun massacre has played out over the last several years, you can probably predict exactly what LaPierre said. Why? Because these events have become as predictable as a Michael Bay movie: lots of loud noises, shouting, adrenaline and death, occurring precisely within a formulaic template.
Right on cue, LaPierre, reacting to the Navy Yard massacre, rolled out one of his most infamous bumper sticker slogans -- a slogan that's about as deep as the sticky paper on which it's printed:
"[T]he whole country, David, knows the problem is there weren't enough good guys with guns. When the good guys with guns got there, it stopped. I mean, what really happened here, the mental health situation in the country is in complete breakdown." Uh, no. This represents a major glitch in the deadly screenplay, and, for the most part, David Gregory let the glitch roll on by.
LaPierre conceded that there were, in fact, around seven armed guards in Aaron Alexis' path. Six at the gate and one in the building who, LaPierre said, "ran toward the fire." What LaPierre didn't mention was that Alexis shot and killed that guard, and, apparently realizing he was out of shells for his Remingon 870 Express, absconded with the guard's 9mm semi-automatic Beretta handgun and proceeded to continue shooting. So to summarize in LaPierre's simplistic language, when the "bad guy with a gun" was confronted by a "good guy with a gun," the "good guy's" gun simply became the "bad guy's" gun. In other words, the shooting rampage might've ended right there were it not for the existence of the "good guy's" gun.
Several minutes later, an active-response team appeared, and a minute or two after that, D.C. police arrived and a gunfight ensued, during which a police officer was wounded in the leg (using the stolen Beretta) and Alexis was killed by gunshot wound to the head.
When LaPierre was reminded that there were armed guards at the scene, he replied that there simply weren't enough, "How could anybody look at what happened this week and say there was enough security there?"
And so the goalposts are successfully moved by a classic flimflam artist. How many are "enough?" How many "good guys?" How many guns? Indeed, there will never be enough "good guys with guns" for LaPierre's taste, chiefly because the NRA's sole mission is to sell as many guns as they can -- not to protect the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which is merely incidental and a convenient enabling statute for the firearm industry. These "good guys" will have to get their guns somehow, and that'll mean more sales and more profits for the firearm industry. (It's endlessly astonishing to me that, years after the need for well-regulated militias has ended, there continues to be an amendment in the Bill of Rights that protects a corporate product.)
The foolish, fantasy scenario being actively peddled by LaPierre to naive gun fetishists is that if everyone has a gun, no one will be killed except the "bad guys." It's difficult to imagine anything more absurd, especially knowing that during the Navy Yard massacre there happened to have been a "good guy" whose gun was taken and used against more victims. Furthermore:
1) In the last 30 years how many mass shootings have been thwarted by "a good guy with a gun" in the United States? According to Mother Jones, zero. None. In fact, one in every five shootings at hospital ERs occur using a firearm taken from an armed guard.
2) Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy were surrounded by trained Secret Service agents armed with powerful firearms including, if you recall from the infamous Reagan assassination-attempt footage, an Uzi sub-machine gun. Reagan was wounded, as were James Brady and two others. Kennedy was killed and Texas governor John Connally was seriously wounded.
3) Back in February, the author of American Sniper, Chris Kyle, who also happens to be the American military's deadliest sharpshooter, was gunned down. At a rifle range. While carrying a firearm. Not only that, but the gunman shot and killed a second man, Chad Littlefield, who was also carrying a firearm. Two good guys with firearms couldn't stop one bad guy.
Guns owned by "good guys" have been responsible for thousands of deaths every year, including the recent spike in children shooting other children using guns legally purchased by adults. In terms of mass shootings, and as Mr. Brink pointed out on the blog, more than 75 percent of all firearms used in mass shootings between 1982 and 2012 were obtained legally by men whom the state considered to be "good guys" at the time of purchase. The same goes for Aaron Alexis, who not only passed a federal background check to purchase a law-enforcement style shotgun, but also passed a USIS vetting process to attain security clearance for the Washington Navy Yard. While Congress and the states continue to abide the NRA and fail to pass new gun prohibitions supported by a supermajority of voters, the proliferation of the deadliest varieties of firearms will continue at its current rate, thus providing more "good guys" with the easy means to become "bad guys."
Of course, we shouldn't hold our collective breath waiting for Meet the Press or anyone else to challenge Wayne LaPierre on his ongoing plot to hijack the narrative with his same old facile agitprop. And that's one of the main reasons why, as David Gregory ironically pointed out during the LaPierre segment, the gun control debate appears to be over -- and the "bad guys," including the NRA, have won.
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