The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Has Blood on His Hands
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The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has a 62-page list of mass shootings in America since 2005. It is Wayne LaPierre's resume.
For the past 21 years, LaPierre has been the National Rifle Association's executive Vice President and chief political strategist.
It is tempting to say that these shootings—including the most recent one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday—reflect something basically wrong with American culture or the nation's very soul. But the majority of Americans favor strict gun control laws. No, let's not burden Americans with collective guilt. The problem is more narrow—and more fixable—than that.
The long list of killings is due in large measure to the political influence of the NRA—and the campaign finance system that allows the gun lobby to exercise so much power. But an outraged and mobilized public can beat the NRA's clout and pressure Congress to put strong limits on gun sales.
The blood of the 27 victims of the Connecticut shooting, including 20 young children, is on LaPierre's hands. Of course, LaPierre didn't pull the trigger, but he's the NRA's hit man when it comes to intimidating elected officials to oppose any kind of gun control and the nation's most vocal advocate of gun owner rights.
There should be special place in hell reserved for LaPierre. He likes to fulminate about gun owners' rights. But so far he's has been silent on the nation's most recent gun massacre.
The NRA not only lobbies on behalf of "stand your ground" laws, but also offers insurance to members to pay for the legal costs of shooting people in "self-defense." The NRA also defends the right of Americans to carry concealed weapons, including handguns.
Adam Lanza—the 20-year old man who walked into the Connecticut school shot his victims with a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle—is no doubt deranged. He's not alone. There are lots of crazy people around. But if we make it easy for them to obtain guns, they are more likely to translate their psychological problems into dangerous and deadly anti-social behavior.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2011 there were 15,953 murders in the United States and 11,101 (30 a day) were caused by firearms. Suicides and unintentional shootings account for another 20,000 deaths by guns each year. Of course, many more people are injured—some seriously and permanently—by gun violence.
The shooting in the Connecticut school was not an isolated incident. We've almost become used to a regular diet of gun-toting rampages. The most visible of them—like Columbine, the Virginia Tech killings, the murders in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, and the Arizona shooting that nearly claimed the life of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and left six others dead—stick in our minds, but there are many others. Even more Americans are killed each year in one-on-one shootings.
Until we tame the power of the NRA, we can expect more killings like this.
The NRA has two knee-jerk responses to this. The first is that the Second Amendment gives all Americans the right to possess guns of all kinds—not just hunting rifles but machine guns and semi-automatics. Efforts to restrict gun sales and ownership is, according to the NRA, an assault on our constitutional freedoms.
The second is the cliché that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." To the NRA, gun laws have nothing to do with the epidemic of gun-related killings.
Both of these arguments are bogus, but the NRA has the money and membership (4 million) to translate these idiot ideas into political clout to thwart even reasonable gun-control laws.