The National Rifle Association represents the values of corporations that make firearms and sell ammunition, and its CEO, Wayne LaPierre, is acting true to form.
The man who led the NRA “through a period of unprecedented membership growth and political clout in defense of our Second Amendment rights …to the good benefit of NRA members and gun owners,” according to its Web site, announced in Washington on Friday that the organization plans to harness a vast reserve of “qualified active and retired police; active, reserve and retired military; security professionals; certified firefighters, … rescue personnel; and an extraordinary corps of patriotic, trained qualified citizens” to be trained, armed and stationed on playgrounds and in classrooms across America in an Officer Friendly version of a million-man militia.
Although he apparently feels free of responsibility for the violence and aggression that have breached our schools — assigning blame, instead, to video game designers, the media and the failure of courts to prosecute criminals — La Pierre despairs that our children have been left defenseless by “politicians [who] pass laws for gun-free school zones.” Dedicated to the success of its well-heeled backers, the gun lobby wants a locked and loaded America where every child is protected by an armed “good guy.”
To that end, the NRA has hired former Arkansas Republican congressman Asa Hutchinson — and will provide a budget “of whatever scope the task requires” — to front an NRA-sponsored “National School Shield” training program to weaponize educational institutions.
While LaPierre wagged his rhetorical finger at everyone but his own constituency for the atrocities a week ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School (“While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectfully silent”), he did not waste the opportunity to attack the United States’ mentally ill citizens, a group nearly as helpless as our schoolchildren.
Ignoring the special needs of the mentally ill, LaPierre declares that this population includes “genuine monsters” and characterizes their suffering as “so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them.” Calling for a federal registry to track citizens diagnosed with psychological disorders, he asks, “How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?”
A similar question might well be asked about how many firing weapons there are, given that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has no searchable computer database of gun owners available for enforcement. LaPierre and the NRA oppose any national registry of firearm ownership and have lobbied successfully for decades to block computerized records of the association’s faithful.