January 31, 2013

There is a magical land of which I am slowly becoming aware. It exists in a universe parallel to our own, but so close that we touch in points, and things that happen there are as vivid as the ones that happen here. You can access it by sticking your head deep into a wardrobe at any given NRA press conference.

The NRA's Wayne LaPierre (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)
The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

Call it NRAnia.

For me, this week’s gun control testimony was most interesting in terms of the window it offered into this exciting, fictional world, which is as densely populated with scary characters and as colorfully realized as anything you will see in theaters this year. George R. R. Martin should throw in the towel.

(There is also another magical land where Piers Morgan is, where the ratings are so thin you can barely breathe and it is too noisy for facts to bother climbing up, but this one is much larger and more colorful.)

Here are some insights I have gleaned from those who have visited this land. I would have gone myself, but I was too old by the time the Dawn Treadern’me showed up, and the magic could not hold me.

In NRAnia … Chicago and the entire United States are one and the same, at least for the purposes of statistics.

In this land, guns do not kill people. People kill people. Guns are suspiciously present at a number of these incidents, but their friends swear that they were not involved. They just have bad timing, like Robert Lincoln at assassinations.

In this land, the status of government is somewhat unclear. Possibly George III is still on the throne, and we need to assemble a militia, post-haste, before he starts taxing tea and glass. Or possibly the Vaguely Malignant Dystopian Government is just on the verge of becoming a hideous tyranny that takes over our homes and starts quartering the heck out of some troops in them. Or possibly Hitler 2.0 has just been crowned and is trying to take back guns from their legal owners so that he can perpetrate horrible crimes against humanity. It is unclear, but it is probably one of the three. (One of the easiest ways of accessing this magical land is by Googling “gun control Hitler,” actually. Especially if you have few wardrobes in your home.)

In this land, guns are magically capable of distinguishing between people who threaten violence against women and women trying to protect themselves from violence. This has not been borne out in the facts before in our particular corner of the world, but in NRAnia, this is definitely the case. The only upper bound on the limit of a woman’s safety there is the number of rounds she is permitted in a clip.

In this land, if criminals are unwilling to do something — forget it! If criminals are unlikely to want to submit to background checks to buy something and will try to obtain those things on the black market, there is only one solution: fewer background checks. In this land, there are no speed limits, because criminals would just ignore them. But everyone has a car.

In this land, “monsters” and “madmen” lurk everywhere. There are no police, or if there are, they are notoriously sluggish and useless. If you want safety in your home, you must be armed to the teeth. The bigger and scarier-looking the weapon, the more intimidated the criminal will be, regardless of your own size. This is an ironclad law. The scariest weapon of all is a gun dressed up to look like another gun.

In this land, people who know each other never commit violence against one another. Certainly not. Faceless monsters who are strangers are responsible for most of the terrible acts.

These monsters are the way they are because of a video game they played on the Internet years ago. It is unclear why video games, certain segments of the Internet and films are allowed to continue to exist in this land, given that they are directly responsible for every horrible thing that happens, and everyone there knows it. But there it is.

To survive, everyone in this land — especially women — must become a bristling arsenal. It is like Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” but with less warm hospitality. Danger lurks everywhere, and there is only one solution: Arm yourself to the teeth and arm your teeth to the teeth.

It is a very convincing place, this land. It is colorful and realistic. There are no unicorns.

But there is one vital fact to remember about it: It does not exist. Addressing the problems that go on in this fictional, compelling place is not the way to solve the ones here. We have trouble enough as it is. We should be willing to listen to any reasonable approach to our very real problems with gun violence. But let’s start by making sure we’re on the right side of the wardrobe door.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.