After a week of silence, the National Rifle Association's (NRA) Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, took the one week anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting to offer his solution to the nation's "alleged" gun problem.
His comments were utterly predictable and arguably not worth the wait.
LaPierre simply mirrored what other gun proponents had been saying since the tragedy, that is, we need to take a harder look at our violent culture, perpetuated by music videos, movies and video games, in addition to an expansion of gun sales by way of putting armed guards in every school across the country.
In a Sunday interview on Meet the Press, he reinforced his initial statements, arguing, "If it's crazy to call for armed officers in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy... It's the one thing that would keep people safe."
In the face of the "bad guy," as LaPierre explains it, we need a "good guy" to stand up for the innocents on the premises. And given that the NRA continues to resist any kind of assault weapons ban, it clearly still believes that we cannot take the actions of the disturbed minority to punish or infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners; this just so happens to be an argument that holds for movies and video games, but I digress.
The most intriguing takeaway from LaPierre's speech was the undefined logistics of his proposal. His statements left many wondering what the addition of armed, retired secret service members, officers and military personnel in the schools would really look like.
Because if we're going to do it, we better do it right.
We'll need to fight military-style fire with military fire. It won't be enough to stick one or even three uniformed police officers at the front doors of our schools with their conventional, .40 caliber pistols and call that sufficient protection. Just ask yourself: In a duel between you and this anonymous "bad guy," only one of you can have the 100-round assault rifle, the other gets the 13-round handgun; which weapon would you choose?
We need James Holmes, SWAT Team-style gear, complete with helmets, neck protectors, bullet-proof vests, helmets, shields and a little tear gas for good measure.
We need throat and groin protectors, ballistic leggings and gas masks. We have to eliminate any weak spots -- any at all that can be exploited in an indiscriminate spray of bullets, and essentially be prepared to turn an elementary school lobby into a war zone rivaling Baghdad faster than you can say "Bushmaster."
And welcome to the new militant America, where kids not only learn the importance of reading and writing in our schools, but also the necessity of the protection only a rifle can provide -- how the presence of an AR-15 is essential to their making it through the school day alive.
My heart breaks for this nation's children who unfortunately are at the mercy of a political storm that has been raging since long before they were born -- a storm that tries to balance our constitutional right to bear arms and the ethical responsibility of the government to protect its citizens from dangers it can easily eliminate or decrease.
It's nonsensical for the NRA to argue that even if we issue another assault weapon's ban, the "bad guys" will still find a way to obtain and use a gun for their future crimes. If that's the argument against gun regulation, then we might as well go forward and legalize marijuana nationwide, and cocaine and heroin, too. Because as we've seen, there are not enough penalties the government can enforce to keep drug users from obtaining their illicit substance of choice. But as evidenced by our strict drug laws, in a fight to mute a rampant drug culture, it doesn't mean we don't try.
My heart breaks for the possible realization of LaPierre's proposals, that the schoolhouse might not be safe as a direct result of its "Firearm-Free Zone" status, and that our only solution to keep our children safe is to strengthen the gun presence in our society, as I'm sure LaPierre would agree, it's not just our schools that are targets for such destruction.
As we saw in Aurora, Colo., there's danger in our movie theaters, the threat of violence looming by the roads we drive along every day, should an assailant decide to use the cars passing by for target practice. Our parking lots are unsafe, our shopping malls, college campuses, temples, churches, grocery stores, pet shops, soup kitchens.
As LaPierre has made us hauntingly aware, anywhere that there is not a gun presence, we are vulnerable, and yet the NRA, which has a real voice in this debate, can only point blame elsewhere -- anywhere but itself.
It refuses to acknowledge the hard truth of the matter, which is that there are simply too many bad guys out there with much too easy access to these high-caliber assault rifles. These people are everywhere and will continue to strike in big cities and small towns alike, no matter the consequences. But until we put an end to the availability of these kinds of weapons or start stationing armed guards every 10 yards across the entire country, we'll always to be vulnerable.
Gun proponents continue to surrender fire arms into the possession of the bad guys, pathetically offering, "If we just had more good guys out there... "
But the good guys can't be everywhere, and for that, my heart breaks for America.
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