In the NRA's view of the world, Ian Stawicki was a law-abiding citizen with the right to carry a loaded gun in any neighborhood of his choosing.
Until he shot four people to death in a Seattle café and then grabbed a mom and shot her in the head near her children's school, Washington State's NRA-style gun-carry law meant that police had no choice but to issue Stawicki a license to carry a loaded, hidden handgun. Police were not allowed to consider his long history of violence and mental illness -- dangerous gun laws forced them to let him be armed and dangerous.
Stawicki's father said he wanted his son's concealed carry license revoked due to his son's long history of mental illness and violence but "The response to us was, there's nothing we can do," because the law mandated that he could be armed. Washington State's dangerous gun laws require police to allow public gun carrying by anyone who simply pays their fee and passes a quick background check. In California, Massachusetts, or New York police are allowed to keep dangerous people like Stawicki from carrying guns in public, but not in Washington State or the many other states whose leaders have done the NRA's bidding and enacted its "guns anywhere" agenda.
As the NRA's million-dollars-a-year CEO has proclaimed, "the guys with the guns make the rules." In the gun lobby's utopia, it is dangerous folks like Stawicki who have the right to venture into our communities, parks and playgrounds carrying hidden, loaded guns. What about our rights? Well, in the NRA's world, the rest of us have no right to enjoy our own neighborhoods free from the threat of gun violence, because we aren't "the guys with the guns."
Indeed, as police were desperately searching for Stawicki during his rampage, schoolchildren in West Seattle reported an armed gunman outside their school. The school was locked down, the frightened children kept in hiding. Yet the principal had to inform worried parents that there is nothing they can do -- "The person carrying a gun seen by our students is a neighbor of the school," out for a morning jog while armed. The children's lesson that day? The best you can do is hide, because the gun lobby has made sure that even your teachers and parents can't stop armed people outside your school.
In the NRA's view of the world, flooding our communities with guns "deters would-be murderers." Never mind that Stawicki and so many deranged killers before him could kill so many people so quickly because the gun lobby made it so easy for them to venture out armed and ready to kill. Never mind that study after study has linked public gun carrying to increased rates of violent crime like robbery and murder.
Now the NRA wants to export its armed utopia nationwide. It wants to allow public menaces like Ian Stawicki or George Zimmerman -- Trayvon Martin's killer, licensed by Florida to carry loaded, hidden guns -- to be armed on just about any street in the nation. If the NRA's "George Zimmerman Armed Vigilante Act" is enacted into law (it's already passed the U.S. House of Representatives), we would have no right even to set the rules in our state or our own community.
We must stand up to the NRA's deadly vision of America. Let's tell our leaders that we have the right to protect our communities, parks and playgrounds from the dangers of guns. So the next time a parent worries that his son should not be allowed to roam the streets armed or schoolchildren report a gunman outside their school, we can act before more innocent people are killed.
Follow Daniel Gross on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@Dan_at_Brady