The Silence of the NRA, The Voices of the Children

Only once in my crisis-counseling career have I advised a client to just stay quiet. Say nothing. Don’t return media calls. It was an organization accused of something, and they knew worse was likely to be disclosed. Nothing was going to help — not getting out in front of it, not giving a short, straight explanation, not an apology. They just had to keep their heads down and take a beating.

Usually the communications advice in a crisis is to say something, even if it’s just to say “We’re looking into this and will get back to you.” (I am not one of those who advises people to mouth that empty cliche, “We take this very seriously…” — Well, duh, what are you going to say, “Nah, we don’t really care”?) The advice is usually to get your point of view in the mix as soon as possible.

The National Rifle Association has kept its head down since the shootings in Connecticut. Not a word. Not a reply to reporters’ calls, according to The New York Times. No tweets, no website comment for several days after the shootings. Don’t even return reporters’ calls? That’s a no-no in our business. But, really, what could they say?

Newtown Connecticut shootingNow there is a post on that says the organization was allowing time for mourning and that the four million NRA moms, dads, sons and daughters were “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” by the tragedy. Then: “The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again. The NRA is planning to hold a major news conference in the Washington, DC area on Friday, December 21.”

Stay tuned. In the week since the shootings, the weather has changed for the NRA. Politicians are starting to find their spines. Some reasonable forms of gun and bullet control, once passed and then rescinded, may return as public horror and anger grow. Brian Lambert’s take on leadership in his most recent post lays out the issues well. Leaders at many levels — city, state, federal — are stirring.

But follow the money. The NRA can stay silent in public but speak with their dollars in elections. That’s their MO. A story in Tuesday’s New York Times shows how they take out legislators who are insufficiently loyal to their view of the Second Amendment.

But money cuts both ways. Pressured by the California teacher’s pension fund, Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity fund that owns several gun companies, is selling them. “The move by Cerberus is a rare instance of a Wall Street firm bending to concerns about an investment’s societal impact rather than a profit-at-all-costs ethos,” the Times reported. Some public employees don’t want their pension money supporting 30-bullet magazines. Way to go.

The NRA has been speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Maybe, this time, at last, their voice, and their money, will be overwhelmed by the voices of little children, eloquent in death.

— Bruce Benidt

(Photo from

83 thoughts on “The Silence of the NRA, The Voices of the Children

  1. PM says:

    I think that this press conference will be very interesting and telling. I think that the NRA wants a seat at the table w/ the Vice President as the future of gun control legislation in this country is debated–and that means that they have to appear to be willing to compromise, at least for now. Six months from now, they can push back from the table and play the aggrieved party, say that their goodwill gestures have all been rebuffed, and go back to their no compromise positions. Or….maybe not.

    That is why it will be interesting to see what happens.

    1. Erik says:

      Yes, in a manner of speaking. But their announcement preceded that task force announcement, and they were not going to get a seat at that table. The President can’t offer them that without enraging his base.

      That said…. The task force show is not done for the benefit of cultural liberals to whom answers to the pertinent questions are obvious. It’s done as a show of moderation to the broader population of gun owners, because that’s the needle that has to be threaded. And ‘clingers’ notwithstanding, the President’s rhetoric has been moving toward the gun owners for years, with a very clear pivot at Heller v DC in 2008. The lefty base is still arguing over individual vs. collective rights (moot) and whether assault rifle can be used for deer hunting (also moot). The President does not do that, his language is largely up to date and contextually correct, particularly when he has acknowledged self-defense. In that vein, the President had a lot of remarks yesterday about video games and mental health. And actually, I don’t think this reflects so much some artificial deftness. He’s grown more intellectually on this than his base, and there are some patches like this where I have really admired his temperament.

      As far as that goes, I think everyone is sincere about Newtown. But I don’t think the NRA will give any obvious ground tomorrow. Whatever they say, a guy like me might be able to spot the practical utilitarian value of their ideas, but it’s more about image maintenance. The need is to give their supporters some rhetorical cover.

      1. PM says:

        Wow, Erik. It is interesting to hear you speak of Obama as the “champion” of your interests–as a moderate voice. For the record, i agree with you. i think that Obama is a moderate, for the most part, on most issues.

  2. DC says:

    Any idea what the all time worst U.S. homicidal school tragedy was? Look it up… you might be surprised to find that firearms weren’t even involved. If you are crazy enough to want to kill a bunch of kids, you’ll likely figure out a way to do it. Blaming firearms for what happened in Newtown makes as much sense as me blaming Microsoft Word if I don’t like what you write.
    Once again the politica in this country are rushing to attack the symbolic issue because it is so much less real work than addressing the substantial issues. The real issue here isn’t guns, it is mental health. If we really want to address it we might start by looking at the psychological impact of allowing / tacitly encouraging our adolescent males to spend literally thousands of hours playing video games that glorify violence and gore. Ya s’pose that habituating and normalizing blowing people up might not be a good idea?
    For the record, I’m not an NRA member and I the closest thing to an assault weapon I own is a NERF gun.
    …apple guy

  3. bertram jr. says:

    Emotional. Very emotional. Dead innocent children will do that to people. Even to loopy liberals who fear guns, unless they need one for protection (I cite the protoo-typical nutjob liberal Rosie ODonnell AGAIN).

    However, in the emotional rush to blame something, anything, that liberals hate, instead of the deranged kid, the medications and the obvious parenting flaws that failed him, etc., we get….the NRA.

    It is beyond rational belief (and therefore perfectly acceptable to the disphoric and narcissistic lib mind) that a national organization founded to support and protect our second amendment rights, the shooting sports, and the shooting industry, would become the “target” of the Piers Morganites (aka Prince Moron) of the world.

    It is simply unbelievable that anyone would pimp these tragic deaths to further their own misinformed notions that law abiding citizens must be disarmed, and constitutional rights abolished, all in the name of a utopian vision of rainbows and unicorns. It is your provisioon violent video games, your lack of parenting resolve / discipline, your acquiesence to administering psychotropic drugs to children, your reliance on “schools” to be the parent, your divorce culture / fatherless households, your “anything goes” mentality writ upon your own children, your failure to establish boundaries or limits, your failure to recognize that commitment is needed in mental health cases, and your disengenuous (pathological) exclusions of “others” ,while beating the drum against “bullying”that results in this type of thing – a nut grabbing a legally owned tool / weapon and using it to wreak violent havoc on inocents who are afforded NO PPROTECTION.

    Only an utter fool would call for disarming law-abiding citizens from being able to protect themselves and their families against such sociopathic travesties as this guy was. Or blaming a tool for it’s use by a damaged operator.

    Violence does not come from a gun, but from a heart.

  4. Dennis Lang says:


    Blog | Josh Voorhees
    NRA Speaks: “The Only Thing That Stops a Bad Guy With a Gun Is a Good Guy With a Gun”
    Friday, December 21, 2012, at 11:31 AM EST

    1. Erik says:

      I would bet they’re fine with it. You’re assuming they have conventional, right of center conservative instincts. That’s not what they are.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Okay, compelling perhaps, but can we determine the cumulative effect of literally hours each week these kids spend in a 1st-person narrative blowing away others? Obviously ultra-well adjusted kids like us will simply be mildly amused but what about the Lanz’s of the world, self-isolated already living in some unspeakable inner torment? And what about future kids whose self-image is shaped not by watching a true moralist like Hopalong Cassidy on black and white TV but an ubermench, heavily armed “moralist”?

  5. bertram jr. says:

    Like many millions of American citizens, the Watchdog can’t help but be affected by the tragedy. It’s one of those gut wrenching events that causes one to reflect on our country, our values, our society, and just what it means to confront evil – true evil.
    The slaughter of so many children is shocking and disturbing.
    And like in so many quarters of American society, the Watchdog has had a week to ponder what happened in that small school last week.
    It really was the end of the innocence for our Legacy Media (LM) outlets.
    This will be remembered as the event where the LM dropped all pretence of principled journalism and revealed themselves to be little more than purveyors of gore and blood. Exploiters of emotion devoid of a scintilla of logic, reason, or fact.
    Devoid of fact. That’s depressing.
    For the talking heads on television, facts didn’t matter. Speed, pictures, music, and all that stimulates the senses and stokes the emotions were the order of the day.
    We saw images of reporters stalking and chasing down young children for an exclusive interview. The opportunity to be first to ask a seven year-old child what it’s like to hear classmates being gunned down next door.
    Can you imagine Walter Cronkite collaring kids at the scene of a mass murder and shoving a microphone in their face?
    (And, by the way, what kind of parent allows their shell shocked child to participate in these interviews?)
    Frankly, it was appalling to watch the media bypass the facts, shred the facts, plainly not give a damn about the facts.
    How many were dead? One? Thirty? Fifty? Who cares. Just get the eye-in-the-sky video up on the screen FIRST. It’s not about facts. It’s about being first.
    The shooter’s mother worked at the school. No, she was a volunteer. No, she had no connection to the school.
    The shooter used an assault rifle in the killings. No, but he had one in his car.
    The biggest sin of all was falsely reporting the name of the shooter. For hours, an innocent man’s name was broadcast around the world as a cold-blooded killer of children.
    The media’s despicable behavior in reporting the shootings was so appalling that some media watchers have called for restrictions on how and what the media reports.
    The Watchdog disagrees. Much like other market sectors, the media faces market place competition.
    The market will work its magic in deciding which media outlets stay and which ones go.
    The LM outlets have been losing viewers and readers by the ton in recent years.
    And this is why.
    There is no need to restrict the First Amendment rights of these “news” organizations.
    They have a constitutional right to broadcast and print the crap they do.
    And we have a constitutional right to select our news outlets, casting aside the ones that have abandoned any pretense of professionalism.
    After Sandy Hook, they have not a shred of dignity or legitimacy left.
    Another crowd that took our respect for them down another notch were all the politicians who just couldn’t even wait until the dead were carried away from the murder scene before jumping in front of television cameras and issuing press releases claiming that guns alone were to blame for the tragedy and that it was high time for some good ol’ fashioned gun control.
    Never mind gathering the facts. Don’t bother to allow law enforcement any time to carefully assess what happened.
    Issue the verdict and then collect the facts. Or just issue the verdict and screw the facts.
    The shameless rush to judgment was vintage Washington. And the reason why so many of us have zero faith in our federal political institutions. Long on rhetoric and short on real solutions.
    But don’t worry, readers. Vice President Joe Biden is leading a task force that will surely come up with all sorts of solutions.
    They’re from the government and they’re here to help.
    It will be more than just a little ironic to watch Obama and Biden lecture us on gun control. The same administration that gave guns to Mexican drug gangs in the Fast and Furious debacle. The same guns that were then used to murder a federal law enforcement agent.
    And what of the culpability of popular culture? A culture that has become coarse and indifferent to violence and suffering.
    A culture that exposes children to sex and violence at earlier and earlier ages. Video games that allow kids to shoot people in the head. Raps music that says “F**k tha Police” and “Cop Killer” from Ice Cube, who now has his own boring and lame cable tv show.
    Guns have always been prevalent in American culture. Mass murders are a newer phenomenon.
    There was a time not too long ago (1980s) when most high schools in Minnesota allowed students to bring shot guns to school and store them in lockers so kids could get in a couple of hours of hunting before or after school.
    In the end, perhaps society isn’t to blame at all for what happened at Sandy Hook.
    Perhaps a series of ugly, evil circumstances came together to produce the tragedy that no amount of government could have prevented.
    The liberal world view posits that government can make life risk free and pain free.
    But conservatives know that just isn’t true. Especially in a free society where citizens have a right to freedom, both economic and personal. Those freedoms come with a certain amount of risk.
    Maybe this tragedy falls on the shoulders of one person. The one who pulled the trigger that fateful day for reasons that are known only to him.
    But whatever the motive, it was evil, pure and simple.
    The socialists in France thought they were being so smart in jacking taxes through the chateau roof in order to both repair the government budget and lay a good beat down on those scummy entrepreneurs.
    One tax lawyer in France reports that a 400-500% increase in the number of requests by French citizens to get the heck out.
    More importantly, this lawyer notes that in years past, most of his clients were retired and looking to preserve wealth in their golden years.
    Today, many of the those looking for exile are young, talented people seeking to make money in another location, taking their talents and enthusiasm elsewhere.
    Even the semi-talented actor Gerard Depardieu is fleeing to the comparatively free Belgium.
    We continue to watch socialism collapse while watching our own president attempt to emulate this failed model right here at home.

    Harold Hamilton
    The Minnesota Watchdog

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      “Brilliant” a bit of a stretch. I suggest Omeprazole for Harold’s apparent gastro-intestinal agony. Hideously biased of course but we’ll go to the mat to defend Harold’s right to express himself.

  6. PM says:

    Yes, there is evil in the world and not only is the government powerless, but the government SHOULDN’T act (if it could) to make things better, because this is nature red in tooth and claw, and we will only know the good and the righteous because they are the ones who will not only survive but thrive!

    If you want to be one of those who are chosen, then you need to prepare yourselves for the end of the world as we know it.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      From Michael Tomasky–“The Dail Beast”

      “But the main thing, of course: no acknowledgment that any efforts at all should be pitched toward trying to see to it that dangerous guns be less available to people like Adam Lanza. Indeed LaPierre blamed everything but guns: video games, decade-old movies, you name it. He’s quite obviously trying to kickstart a debate about these things, especially about the armed guard in every school idea, because every minute spent debating that is a minute not spent debating the weapons that mow humans down so quickly and efficiently. People on the other side should remain aware of this and not waste much time debating LaPierre’s mostly irrelevant proposition.”

  7. Minnesotan says:

    A military friend I follow on Facebook posted a link to this story. It’s a bit long, but I thought it was extremely well written and thought out.

    On Friday, a dad received news that a lone gunman walked into an elementary school and murdered twenty first grade children and six adults. His heart fell to the ground. Tears welled in his eyes and he asked himself, “How can someone be so evil? How does a man look at these beautiful children and want anything but the best for them, let alone want to kill them?” He walked through his home and found his own children, two beautiful daughters, and squeezed them as hard as he ever had before, reveling in the fact that they were safe. He vowed nothing would ever happen to them if there was anything he could do about it.

    I hugged my children for ages. I gritted my teeth. I wished I had been there to stop it. I wished evil did not exist, even though I know better. I wish I could give those parents back their children. I know many of you did as well. And then I asked myself, “What could we have done?”

    I’m writing this because the debate around this topic is about to get stupid. One contingent is about to ignore history and claim that guns are the problem and we should ban firearms and the other contingent is going to put their head in the sand and claim there is no problem. My intent here is simply this: to do what I think is right and try to get people to understand where the other side is coming from so we can have the right debate.

    Our country is at a precipice right now, and I believe in order to successfully navigate it, we need to be realistic, shed partisan ideas, and have a serious discussion about weapons and such incidents, and then take appropriate, reasoned action.

    First, a caveat: I like guns. I am a lifetime member of the NRA. Moreover, I believe the 2nd Amendment is likely the most important element of the Constitution as it is, in the words of George Washington, our nation’s “Liberty Teeth”. I realize many who will read this article do not like weapons, think the NRA is made up of a bunch of rednecks, and think that the 2nd Amendment was written with muskets in mind, and not “assault weapons”. For you, I want to explain why I think weapons are so important.

    Personal safety. Firearms are the great equalizer. I am a 205 pound, former infantryman that has spent his whole life in combat sports. Unless you are a professional fighter, a collegiate wrestler, a BJJ Ninja, or a defensive end in the SEC there’s a good chance that if I decided to assault you, rape you, or hurt you or your family in any way, there isn’t anything you could do about it. You’d be left with really only one option: hoping that I would have mercy.
    Does that make you comfortable? It doesn’t make me comfortable. Conversely, you could be a 95 pound, seventy-five year old female with a handgun and training, and suddenly my 205 pounds is meaningless. That bullet will work just fine on me as it would on any other assailant.

    But do we really need guns in this day and age of civilized society? There’s a belief out there that there is no need for weapons; that these assaults are mere fabrications. FBI statistics, however, show that 42% of Americans are the victims of a violent crime in their lives (assault, robbery, rape). To add to that statistic, an FBI poll of incarcerated criminals shows that in nearly one third of all robberies the perpetrator was armed with firearm. In this instance, if I was the victim, and someone broke into my home and they were armed and I was not, they could be the scrawniest, weakest person in the world, but my 205 pound frame isn’t going to do anything against 9mm hollow point. My family and I would be at the mercy of criminals, a mercy that in many cases is not forthcoming.

    Benefit to Society. An armed society is a polite society. When people know there is an imminent threat to their lives if they attack person or property, they tend to do it less. In almost every situation where guns are banned, the crime rate spikes, and in particular the homicide rate by firearms grows. It is true in Chicago. It’s true in Washington, DC. It’s true in Michigan. It’s true in England. It’s true in Australia. You’ve heard it so much that it sounds cliché now, but the reality is that two-thirds of all the firearms that have ever been made reside in the United States. If you outlawed all weapons tomorrow, two-thirds of all firearms ever made would still reside here. The only difference would be that law-abiding citizens would no longer own them and criminals would have free reign. A poignant example is that of Florida. Despite the bluster of the Martin Case, since Florida became a “right to carry” state in 1986, the homicide rate has drastically and steadily declined. Florida’s homicide rate has averaged 36% lower since 1986, while the country at large has averaged 15% lower, a massive differential that should not be ignored.

    But what about all these fatal accidents? I’ll admit that it really bothers me viscerally when I hear about a kid getting killed at home because his dad left his weapon out, or hear about teenagers playing with unsecured weapons and one of them, thinking the weapon is not loaded, kills his friend. Each one of these incidents was avoidable with a gun safe and some basic firearms safety. Nevertheless, context is important. We have about 125,000 accidental deaths a year in the United States. 0.5% of them come from guns. You are 30% more likely to die by getting caught in heavy machinery than by an accidental discharge. You are three times as likely to get hit by a car while walking. You are seven times as likely to burn to death. You are ten times as likely to drown. You are thirty-five times as likely to die from falling down. You are sixty times as likely to die from poisoning. You are seventy times as likely to die in a car wreck. The fact of the matter is that firearm deaths simply aren’t very common and are all avoidable with proper gun ownership.

    But Why Assault Weapons and Not Just Home Protection Our Constitution differs from every other writ of law because it does not give the government power, but rather limit government power. Its intention was to allow man to live in the freest condition possible within the confines of a nation. The government serves us. We do not serve the government. In order for that to be the case, we must have the means to defend ourselves against the government should it attempt to take power that is not given to it by the body public.

    Now, let me be clear. I do not hoard food or ammo. I do not think a government collapse is likely or imminent. I do not think that President Obama or any President on the horizon is going to attempt to overthrow the rule of law and create a modern day military state, but I don’t think we should be forced to hope for the best either. Historically, whether we’re talking about Armenia, Cambodia, Germany, Russia or any number of other places, disarmament is followed by genocide. Policy detractors are ostracized, separated, imprisoned and ultimately killed. The interesting thing is that these things tend not to happen all at once. The governments continue to infringe on rights, assuming they are no longer necessary because they, the politicians, know best and are doing what’s right for the people, even if the people don’t agree. Under both the Bush and Obama administrations, U.S. Citizens are under observation without warrants. Citizens can be imprisoned without a trial if they are deemed a terrorist threat. Do I think that President Obama is abusing this power? I absolutely do not. Do I think future Presidents might? I absolutely do.

    I honestly believe that we live in the best country in the world, that all of our problems are surmountable, and that an armed large-scale encounter with the government will never occur. That being said, I am not willing to abdicate my freedom in that regard. A great many Americans have died for our inalienable rights. Our framers had great foresight in drafting the 2nd Amendment and they were clearly not talking about home defense. You need look no further than their letters to each other in these matters and you can see that they plainly meant that man must protect himself from those who would be his keeper – a corrupt government.

    But that isn’t the only the reason for Assault Weapons
    During Hurricane Katrina things went insane. Power was lost. Police could not control the citizenry. Anarchy ruled. People were beaten, raped and murdered. Homes were looted. And it could have been much worse.

    What happens if we get hit with an EMP and lose power on the East Coast for months? Or an even larger natural disaster occurs resulting in the same? What happens if we can’t readily get a steady food or water supply? Civilization devolves quickly when our supply chain and way of life is thrown aside. In that moment, when the wolf is at the door, do you want to stand there with a bolt action hunting rifle or an M-4?

    Is this a likely reality? Perhaps not, but it is definitely possible. I fail to see what is wrong with a trained law-abiding citizen transporting an AR-15 from his or her gun safe to the range and back. With 99.999% probability, there will never be a need to use this weapon for any other means. But again, why should we have to give up our inalienable rights that our military has bled for over two and a half centuries just because the possibility of either a dictatorial government or a criminal looting public is a low probability scenario?

    So gun rights win and we should do nothing right?
    This is where I think we need to honestly evaluate our practices and elevate our discussions. I grew up in Massachusetts where guns were not popular and most people, including me in my youth, did not understand why a person would even want to own one. I can tell you, as a guy who never fired a weapon until Basic Training, that guns are very scary things to the uninitiated. Many people are calling for arming our teachers. They cite Israel as an example. Bad example.

    First, most Israeli teachers are not armed. Second, Israel has compulsory service and therefore have trained with firearms. Every man and woman can fight. They are hard people that are always on the brink of war. Muslims on all sides literally want to eradicate them from the face of the Earth. That is not us. So what can we do that makes sense and gets the desired result?

    School Security. If you wanted me to stand in a school armed and protect our kids, I’d feel good about my chances. I’d feel better if you had a bunch of Tim Kennedy doppelgangers a la Jenga Fett. I’d feel comfortable because I know I am going to react quickly, hit what I shoot, clear the area behind my shot before pulling the trigger, and not spazz and accidentally shoot someone else. I do not feel remotely like that about the average Kindergarten teacher. Random teachers without training in a MOUT environment with thin walls and kids everywhere is not my idea of setting anyone up for success.

    I do, however, love the idea of having a few ARMED sheepdog police officers on each campus. The schools in my community do this, as they do in many communities. Our police officers are trained for these situations and it is their job to stay vigilant. Furthermore, having even one police officer in the building brings the chances of a successful armed assault to almost zero. Having two essentially makes it impossible.

    I’d also be very comfortable with select teachers or administrators who VOLUNTEERED for such roles and passed intensive combatives courses to be armed on school property as well. It’s important to note that some schools do this now, and there are documented cases where an armed principal has prevented similar violence as occurred in Newtown.

    Mental Health. You can look back twenty years and assess every shooting of this sort and the one thing that each scenario shares is that in almost every case the patient was on some form of anti-depressants to combat a mental disorder. Furthermore, parents, friends, and neighbors always highlight years of aggressive behavior of the assailants after these events occur. There is clearly a common thread, and yet currently, mental health is not considered as a gate that must be passed through to obtain a weapon. While I am not an expert in this regard and more investigation and analysis is certainly needed before making rash blanket policies, there is certainly a way to identify those that should not have access to weapons. I’d rather err on the side of making a handful of people jump through a few more hoops to obtain a weapon than hand the Adam Lanzas of this world weapons of any kind.

    Better trained people. Universal conceal and carry.
    I recently took my eight-year old stepson to his first paintball event. I’m not a “paint baller” but he really wanted to do it, so I dadded up and we went. We spoke at length the night before about gun safety. I had him practice not putting his finger in the trigger assembly unless he was going to shoot with one of his nerf guns. When we got there, I had him practice target shooting for a while. When we finally got on the course and the other team started shooting at us, the first thing he did was forget everything I told him and accidentally shoot me at point blank range in the back of the head.

    I am a graduate of the gun safety course North Carolina requires for a Conceal and Carry license. It was painfully easy course that required one to shoot a stationary target at 7 meters with something like forty rounds. You were allowed to miss four times. I was the best shot that day and I am a competent, not talented pistol shot. Some people missed several shots…at seven meters. I literally could throw rocks and hit a man sized target at that range 40 times. Missing with a pistol is inexcusable, and yet these people can walk among us in public places with a loaded weapon.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I believe in conceal and carry. I believe we should have Federal Universal Conceal and Carry Laws and I do not believe we should allow “Gun Free Zones” for these individuals. I do, however believe that an intensive combatives style course is necessary for these individuals. Stress inoculation is essential if you expect people to either make good decisions or hit their targets in a real environment. I don’t want someone who can’t easily hit a stationary target drawing down on an attacker in a crowded place. Why? Because I don’t want to get shot in the back of the head, while I’m trying to get the bastard.

    So that will solve the problem?
    Unfortunately , no. The problem will never be completely solved. Some people are born wanting to see the world burn. In the case of Newtown, the killer had a genius level IQ, murdered his mother in order to get legally owned weapons when he was denied the ability to get them on his own, broke a window and snuck into the school and murdered defenseless children before taking his own life. If we had police in the building, with near certainty fewer would have died. If his mother had locked up her weapons, maybe his insane fancy would have subsided, but most likely, no matter what, whether through legal or illegal means, the killer would have obtained a weapon and hurt at least some of those kids. And if not him, someone else, somewhere else. We don’t like to admit that because it is uncomfortable. It takes the control away from us and it is easier to try to legislate the problem away or yell at each other than it is to admit that evil exists and prepare for it.

    The worst thing we can do is pretend the world isn’t a dangerous place. The best thing we can do is be trained, prepared, and vigilant for those that would do us and ours harm.

    Please consider a world where there are no “assault weapons” or even any firearms at all. Imagine the killer is built much like I am. He breaks into the school with a machete, which is currently the weapon of choice on the African continent. The primarily female elementary teachers try to stop him. What do you think would happen? There is no doubt in mind the results would be the same until the police arrived to kill him. The school was unprepared for the wolf, to borrow from LTC Grossman’s famous essay, and our children paid the price.

    Full Circle
    My inspiration to write this article was a conversation I had with a friend from California on Facebook. During our discussion, her friend chimed in with an ALL CAPS MESSAGE shouting that I should be ashamed of myself and that I was an enabler of a gun culture. I instantly grew aggravated and told her to grow up, and discontinued the discussion. I fully admit it was childish on my part, but that discourse is the type we have today on many issues. We tell similarly minded people things we know they will agree with us about and feel good when they agree with us, all while demonizing those with opposing thoughts. It gets us nowhere.

    I began this article with a story about a dad. That man was our President, Barack Obama. He is moved by what has happened, as we all have been. He is duty bound to solve this problem of violence. He is trying to do what he feels is right.

    Let’s help him get it right. Consider what you really believe about the issue and write your Senators and Representatives and for that matter, the President. My viewpoint may not be the right answer, and I’m sure many of you have serious issues with many things I’ve said, but I believe it is closer to the right answer than just yelling “You’re an idiot” at those who disagree with us. Let’s protect our children as best we can while simultaneously protecting our Constitutional Freedoms. It isn’t only the right thing to do. It is now absolutely essential.

    If we leave this to our politicians, without promoting a guiding voice, the debate will be about weapons and magazines and nonsense. Either the pro-gun crowd will “win” and nothing will change or the anti-gun crowd will “win” and criminals will once again be the most armed citizens. Neither option does anything for the nation or our children. Let’s do something meaningful for a change.

  8. Bruce benidt says:

    Smart discussion, less crazy and ornery than most on this topic. Way to go Rowdies.
    Saw a bumper sticker on a pickup here in Florida today: same as Minnesotan’s friend’s post — an armed society is a polite society. I do not get the logic of that: don’t see any evidence.
    The NRA proposal to put armed guards in all schools is an ironic twist on what we say about the First Amendment: the answer to bad speech isn’t less speech but more. So the NRA says the answer to mass shootings is more guns. It has a tempting whiff of logic to it, and the echo of the First Amendment position means we liberals can’t dismiss it out of hand. And might it actually help? Have armed air marshals on planes helped? Hard to say. Still, Friday’s NRA statement feels like self-parody.
    Will this debate and legislative cycle break any new ground? We’ll see. I think it might, but my optimism may be drug-induced as I’m in hospital with pancreatitis.
    Most moving thing I’ve heard is my dear friend Jorg’s angry angry reaction, as a human and the father of two young darling kids.
    I hear Neil Young: “What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground? How can you run when you know?”
    Part of the rationale for the Second Amendment is to be able to fight against tyranny. Can one fight tyranny with only single-shot rifles? But isn’t the greater danger the tyranny of violence?
    “How many more?”

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Hey Bruce–Obviously, Pancreatitis potentially very serious. We’re with you. Take those drugs and get back to your fiesty self very soon!!!

  9. PM says:

    What amazes me most about this proposal is just how unconservative it is–almost a proposal to create a police state, to make the country safe for guns.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      PM–All I can say at the moment is that any undergrad classmates of yours at that prestigious Ivy League university would be blessed to have you in their study group. You are unequaled in sourcing, references, and research on virtually any subject that comes up here at the Crowd. Great stuff!

      A happy holiday to all!!

  10. Newt says:

    Not every parent has the luxury of having armed guards at their child’s school – like NBC’s David Gregory, the Obamas, or Rosie O’Donnell.

    How nice it must be to rail against the NRA’s proposal out of one side of your mouth, while smugly and silently benefiting from it personally.

    No hypocrisy there.

    1. PM says:

      Gee, i have to tell you, newt, that you are spot on here. i would just love to have armed guards with me everywhere i went. I simply can not imagine how cool and secure that would feel to have an armed entourage. In particular, I’d love to have my kids going to school with armed guards every day. Wow, i think that they would really enjoy that. That is the ultimate feeling of having arrived in the world, of being someone important–sort of like lady diana’s life, you know!

      You know, of course, that there are some really lucky places in the world where middle class people get to have armed guards with them all the time, too! Places like Caracas, or Lagos. They even get to have armored cars! If only our entire society could achieve that kind of security.

      Once i got a little taste of that wonderful life, in johannesburg. The secure feeling of living in a house surrounded by high walls with barbed wire on top, and really nice rottweillers that came out after dark in the yard, and panic buttons in every room, and an armed response security service that would be there. Not quite the same thing as armed guards, but still….

      1. Newt says:

        Once again my point sales far, far above PM’s head.

        Yes, it’s unfortunate to need armed guards at schools.

        But PM confuses the necessity of armed guards with the right to have them. Liberal elites enjoy a Constitutional right that they seek to prevent the rest of us from having.

        That’s called hypocrisy.

      2. PM says:

        There are no proposals that would prevent people from hiring security services if they can afford to.

        creating a false dichotomy is not hypocrisy, but rather stupidity.

        Merry Christmas, Newt!


      3. PM says:

        PS: those “lucky” people at Columbine enjoyed armed guards at their school. Didn’t prevent the shooting there. Seems to be a rather ineffectual “necessity”. Expensive, too.

      4. Erik says:

        No, it didn’t . But the deputy engaged the two in fire. There is a game theory understanding of the incident and those like it that suggests his engagement probably prevented the two from killing a few more kids.

        Columbine is pervasively misused by as an anecdote the way you have misused it.

      5. Erik says:

        What’s your objection to the expense PM? Presumably as a Democrat you don’t really cast a discriminating eye toward the addition of more government expenses or employees. Another dollar spent is as good as any other essentially, so long as services as taxing authority to provide them increases.

      6. PM says:


        the NRA presents the use of armed guards at schools as a way to prevent school shootings. Clearly this is an impractical and at best partial solution–which is not the way the NRA presents it. Columbine is a clear and direct counterfactual to the NRA proposal.

      7. PM says:

        Regarding the expense:

        I think that there are better ways to invest the money, rather than turning our society into an armed camp. Investment in infrastructure, for example. And there are cheaper and more effective ways to make people safer–both in schools and through out our society.

        Generally, i don’t like boondoggles, and this is clearly a boondoggle proposal.

      8. Erik says:

        They don’t argue it prevents incidents from ever happening. They’re arguing for ther presence of protection and immediate response. You’re not allowing them to use the word the way the rest of the world uses the word as it relates to security and policing. You’re engaging in a strawman arugument.

        Further, I recall you making making a point about game theory in the past, so I know you understand this.

        It is very expensive, but engage the real argument.

      9. Erik says:

        If we were to station a fireman on site at all schools, we wouldn’t say that his / her presence was going to prevent fires at all schools.

        Be cautioned, by the way, the President and Biden are going to come back in Jan with an assault ban proposal, more background checks AND guards in schools. I know the thing about being a liberal is that you never have to account for your past positions but… well, I guess there’s that, huh. Ya just never do have to account for them.

        So, no benefit at all to an armed guard in every school? None? And this employee furnishes less productivity and value than say an assistant activities director or diversity coordinator? I’m not being inflammatory. Diversity coordinators are fine. But you’re going to get less value from a guard with a peace officers license?

      10. PM says:

        So erik. are you saying you are in favor of tax increases to protect gunownership? is that hypocritical on your part?

        As for your point on game theory, you need to expand on the point that you are trying to make, because it makes no sense to me–maybe that is because you simply haven’t given enough background information. I simply see nothing there besides you repeating “game theory” over and over.

        As for the real argument, it is what should we do to reconcile two apparently conflicting issues–the desire of the population to have widespread gun ownership on the one hand, and the desire for safety and security. The NRA (and you?) appear to think that there is no conflict, and that to the extent there is conflict, the solution is more widespread gun ownership/use/presence in people’s everyday lives (armed guards in schools, armed teachers, gun training for everyone, etc). Others (myself included) feel that more restrictions would do a better job–more restrictions on the type of people who have access to guns (trying to do more and better screening to keep mental cases and criminals away from guns) and trying to limit access to the types of guns that can do the most damage (clips and armored piercing ammo, etc.–stuff that can be easily concealed, maybe limits on concealed carry, creation of gun free zones, etc.).

        Want to make corrections/suggestions to that characterization of the basic argument?

        Oh, and if Biden comes back and suggests more guards in schools, why does that create a problem for me? You have this weird tick where you think that because i voted for Obama I have to agree with him on everything. Maybe this is a form of projection on your part, but it really is rather silly and simplistic, and you keep going back to it all the time, and it keeps getting knocked down ( by me and others). Given that you seem to be incapable of learning from this repeated deconstruction of your argument, one can only assume that it is something in you that compels you to repeat this behavior.

        And not only do I see little benefit to armed guards in schools, i think (and here I agree with Chris Christie) that armed guards in schools are not a positive thing. I think that they would interfere with the educational mission of the schools, and not really make children and teachers feel safer, but rather serve as a constant reminder of the dangers posed by guns and crazies in our society. Having been in both highly violent soceities (South Africa, Latin America) and relatively peaceful ones (Scandinavia, England) I much prefer the more peaceful ones. I have to imagine that you’d prefer them too.

      11. Erik says:

        Yes, I would approve / be in favor. I approve / am in favor of taxes to pay for services. I oppose taxes that are proposed in pursuit of some murky idea of fairness or income equilibrium. It’s not hypocritical on my part (but I don’t necessarily blame you for assuming… ).

        It’s not as if you have to tax for this though. We can just…print the money… which is what we do with everything else. So I don’t know how anyone can object under the circumstances.

      12. Erik says:

        Re game theory.

        I’d probably need 45 minutes to come up with the words to articulate it. I understand re incident response, but it’s not 2nd nature to me.

        My larger observation is that people above a certain level of intellect should instantly understand that “but but but they had a guard at Columbiiiiiine” is a bit of a ridiculous point. Being one of the better minds here, you ought to be one of those people.

      13. Erik says:

        Re reconciliation – that’s spot on.

        Our society isn’t dangerous either, and this is a matter of statistical reality. Whether people believe it is another thing. So yes, to the extent there’s a conflict, we would argue for solutions that don’t abridge gunowner rights.

      14. Erik says:

        Well PM, insofar as there’s no efficacy in guards in every school, you have within these pages acknowledged or shown an understanding that there’s no efficacy in an assault weapons / magazine ban either.
        Is your stake in the argument just the culture war value then?

        Thing about LaPierre is he wasn’t speaking to you. He was speaking to his members and the Obama administration. You and the other chortlers can chortle all you wish, but you’re not a member of a caucus that has any say in this.

      15. Erik says:

        We need to hang out Jim. You don’t know me well enough.

        I’m political the way Brad Pitt was political in Legends of the Fall. I don’t watch CNN. Or Fox.

      16. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Tristan? Meh…by my lights, the character’s a total narcissist. That’s why he’s “the rock that everyone breaks themselves against,” blah, blah, blah. That’s the way it is for everyone who gets involved with a narcissist. To a narcissist, everyone else is mere means to his/her ends, not ends in themselves. Look at how everyone connected with Tristan winds up. Dead.

      17. Erik says:

        Yes Jim, well played. Though I think at the superficial, entertainment level you’re just supposed to think he’s a lone wolf, an iconoclast, and dashing figure.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      It is cocktail hour here at the Lang estate and while the invited are kibbitzing by the fireplace and before I shut this infernal contraption down–it is Christmas afterall–my thought. Each and every citizen–three-hundred million of us should be provided our own assault weapon at the age of, say, sixteen. Self-defense is obviously paramount! Kudos to the NRA. Is there any question the right to arm ourselves to the max is by far the most vital and primo amendment?


      1. PM says:

        If it was the most vital right, wouldn’t it have been in the original constitution rather than in an amendment?


        Hope you had a great Christmas!

  11. bertram jr. says:

    Jim, Tristan is indeed the definition of a narccissist. He pursued benefit only for himself, and essentially killed the good people he collected as “supply”. He then sought revenge which begat more tragic loss.

    The last scene where he is thought to be hand to hand in combat with a grizzly, is simply a metaphor for his grappling with himself.

    The epidemic of narcissism is a story that needs telling. It is, in my alleged mind, the biggest behavioral issue facing our society, and not unrelated to the recent tragic multi-victim murders.

    It’s all around us – in the workplace, at school, in the malls, and in the stadiums. It wreaks havoc on the family structure, on the basic civilities that are disappearing as narcissists devalue and discard others in pursuit of their pathologic desires.

    The abilty to recognize narcissism and to avoid it at all cost is one that we all would be well served by. Yet we often fail to identify the narcissists among us.

    1. Erik says:

      I knee jerk assumed Jim was right, but I changed my mind and now disagree. I don’t think Tristan’s character represents narcissism.

      In the character building, they ascribe traits to Tristan that are some combination of Native American spirituality and general feral-ness. That’s not narcissism, that’s not the narcissist archetype.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        As with everyone, I based my assessment on what Tristan does and the outcomes of his actions, not his fashion sense and Native American affectations. No doubt about it, narcissists tend to be compelling, charismatic people, by necessity; because they go through people like Kleenex and, thus, need a steady supply of new acolytes. We, the readers of the novella, or the viewers of the film, are no less beguiled by Tristan, as you demonstrate.The character is raised by a narcissist so toxic he drives off Tristan’s mother, so in that rustic isolation, he had little chance of turning out as anything but pathologically self involved.

      2. Erik says:

        If that’s sort of an ulterior analysis that exists outside the author’s intentions, I think I might disagree. But I’m sure it’s a fair statement, and I will revert back to not doubting your expertise here.

        I am not a narcissist, and have doubts it’s that big a societal problem. Yes, people are self-involved. And that’s a side effect of modernity’s abundance.

        Lanza, Holmes, Cho, Loughner are not narcissists. They are sick, with an inability to have reality penetrate their internal dialogue.

  12. PM says:


    I’m feeling my way through on this one. Gun Control has never been a huge issue for me. i am a gun owner, and a (former) NRA member (years ago), and a once in a very long while hunter.

    Frankly, i have no problem at all with registration of guns, and lots of background checks into potential gun purchasers. I don’t think that those types of things in any way infringe on the Second Amendment.

    i also know that there is nothing we can do that will absolutely prevent mass shootings–at schools or workplaces, etc. (

    So, to an extent, i think that it is fair to say that anything that is done now will be symbolic (in that it can not prevent mass school shootings). That would include guards in schools, clip limits, and assault rifle ban, etc. Of course, some of those things are not only symbolic but also expensive, and might well have other negative externalities. i think that armed guards in schools would certainly fall into this category, while neither clip limits nor an assault weapon ban would (btw, wasn’t it you who earlier stated that you thought limits on large capacity clips would be reasonable?).

    you appear to equate “symbolic” actions (as i have characterized them) with a culture war approach. I can see the equivalence, but your choice of terminology seems to suggest a certain paranoia, don’t you think? A sense of being an embattled minority, the feeling of persecution that Fox News and Bill O’reilly work so hard to cultivate (war on christmas, etc.). Do you really buy into that stuff? Do you really see yourself as a victim?

    1. Erik says:

      Stewart is very gutsy to give Alex Jones a Daily Show takedown.

      Sheesh. Here, the point of the Morgan / Jones stunt becomes obvious. The “irony quotes” crowd was having a difficult time effectively mocking Wayne LaPierre and the other substantive figures.

      You’re not incorrect though. The intransigence is a result of paranoia. The question becomes is the paranoia justified. And this bears some relation to how much you believe in a slippery slope / camels nose argument.

      The long term goal of the progressive movement has been abolition. The goal of the gun control people who write the legislation has been abolition. Broadly, incrementalism is how the game is played. In a different venue, Planned Parenthood understands this. Go chide them for their opposition to “reasonable, common sense restrictions’.

      1. PM says:

        I simply do not think that your statement ( “The long term goal of the progressive movement has been abolition. The goal of the gun control people who write the legislation has been abolition.” ) is anywhere close to accurate.

        Indeed, it is, i think, an example of that paranoia.

      2. Jim Leinfelder says:

        If that was typed in all UPPER CASE, I’d swear that cartoon, Alex Jones, wrote it, But do go on, Erik, about the juggernaut of a “progressive movement” and all their U.S Congress people (Barry Sanders and…anybody? Bueller?) and ANY president they’ve ever had in office.

      3. Erik says:

        Nonetheless, I don’t think Alex Jones is any more ridiculous than Michael Moore.

        You like Michael Moore Jim?

      4. PM says:

        False equivalency alert!

        (I don’t care for Michael Moore, at least not since “Roger and Me”, which i did enjoy)

      5. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Erik, I actually have problems with Michael Moore. He’s a talented story teller and self promoter. But, ultimately, even when I’m enjoying one of his docs, I don’t feel like I can always trust them. That said, I do not see him and that bully of a blowhard, Alex Jones, as being two sides of the same coin. Jones manifests no talent that I’m able to discern beyond yelling louder as rhetorical technique. Moore seems to me to be a bright guy. Jones does not.

      6. Erik says:

        How is it so false? They are both conspiracy theorists of the first order.

        By the way, to the extent it’s relevant, Jones is not a ‘right winger’. His language on economics is identical to the occupiers and a lot of other progs re ‘globalism’. He’s somewhat Larouche-ian. He’s got a bit of appeal to both conservative and prog conspiracy buffs.

      7. Erik says:

        I am a radio consumer foremost, so I have heard Jone’s show. It’s not on consistently here though, so I hear it maybe an hour a month. In life I have eschewed apocryphalness, so a lot of what he says is not for me.

        Aside from that, I think he makes some important populist observations. Marc Ambinder:

        “One of Jones’ obsessions, which, I confess, I share, is the militarization of the American homeland, and he is not promulgating a conspiracy here. The military has expanded its presence on American soil, and crucially, has expanded the way it is organized to respond to mass contingency events of any kind, including natural disasters and rioting. The U.S. Northern Command does receive intelligence briefings about domestic disturbances from the FBI and DHS, so commanders would be somewhat prepared to deploy troops.”

      8. PM says:

        I am also concerned about the militarization of the US–but my concerned about it is somewhat tempered by the fact that what we are talking about here is the National Guard, as opposed to the professional military. I find it difficult to imagine a military coup in the US by national guard troops. (that is one of the reasons I like the idea of a draft/national service)

        (and, yes, the equivalency is not totally without merit, but as an argument, it really doesn’t do much–countering one of your idiots with one of my idiots doesn’t seem to rise too far beyond “yeah? Well, so’s your mother!”)

    2. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Yes, that for a pack of righteous, calcified absolutists, the current NRA seem to be unacquainted with their own recent history and melanin-dependent views on 2nd Amendment rights and watering the tree of liberty with blood, blah, blah, blah.

      1. Erik says:

        Right, uh huh. You’re disappointed that the NRA is no longer jaundiced by some sort of prejudice. But it’s OK that the Democrat party is ostensibly no longer jaundiced by prejudice. Is that correct?

      2. Erik says:

        I’ll restate.

        We’re to understand that that the NRA was inclined to acquiesce on gun control in the latter 60’s and 70’s. This a response to the specter of urban crime and black radicals. Now they’re not inclined to acquiesce. And you find this ‘ironic’. Or something.

        I suppose I can accept that the premise is factually correct. But it would then appear the NRA has, like many contemporary institutions, evolved to an ideology and stridency not attenuated by racial prejudice. So I’m having a hard time seeing the ironic hook where you can hang the chortle chortle, ‘they’re really just a bunch of RAAAAASCISTS’ tag. The logic is ass backwards. But you’re willing to rely on it, the desire to assert racism being so strong apparently. ‘melanin-dependent’. Give me a break, the pathetic faux coy-ness.

      3. Jim Leinfelder says:

        I’m saying they’re full of it with all this melodramatic talk of needing their 30-round mags and faux military-style assault rifles so they can be ready to overthrow the government. Why should we non-revolutionaries not be just as concerned with you budding insurrectionists as the NRA of yore was with the Black Panthers?

        The relevancy of the The Atlantic piece is that it shows how In the past, when groups with which the NRA couldn’t find a way to culturally or politically identify wanted to use the threat of violence to advance the change they felt the political system was failing to deliver, then they were all for limiting 2nd Amendment rights.

        As I would be.

        The things is, I don’t recall the Black Panthers racking up the numbers of murdered and maimed innocents that garden-variety psychos with ready access to rapid-fire, high-capacity weaponry have in the decades since the NRA and Gov. Reagan sought to limit 2nd Amendment rights. And your argument to live with that risk is that you just might have to go all Malcolm X on the guvmint some day.

      4. Erik says:

        The potential for your own revolution is really a secondary benefit to having arms, the primary being able to defend yourself from the malevolent forces of the state. l’ll have you know, when the police is in conflict with minorities in these situations, the white yahoos in the gun community more often come down on the side of the minorities. There are some white gun writers who have been instrumental in moving the Danziger bridge investigations forward.

        These people would have been well served to have ARs.

      5. Erik says:

        I would guess that the NRA was quite a bit more WASPy and ex military than it is now, something of a gentleman’s organization. And with quite a bit of police among its leadership. These guys all approaching 50 years old in 1970, all having been in the war, all real law and civic order types.

        Inasmuch as the NRAs position evolved, the government’s credibility has also diminished in just about every venue. The idea is they are not trustworthy, and not worthy of a use of force monopoly.

      6. Jim Leinfelder says:

        The one time I had a flash of empathy for the gun-obsessed was when I watched the documentary, “Harlan County,” about the effort of 180 coal miners and their wives against the Duke Power Company-owned Eastover Coal Company’s Brookside Mine and Prep Plant in Harlan County, southeast Kentucky in 1973. There in that isolated holler these abjectly poverty-stricken, exploited people needed guns as a counter balance to, not state firepower, but the goons hired by Duke Power.

        But it’s also shown in the film that the union’s own members fall prey to violence for hire in an internecine power struggle wherein a corrupt union official has a reformer murdered. In the end, it’s the sobering and shocking use of force that brings both sides to reach an agreement. None of them, however, were packing pseudo assault weapons with high-capacity clips.

        Of course, we have to remind ourselves, that absolutely no one is advocating that guns be taken away. Just some sanity.

      7. Erik says:

        Well there you are. That’s as good an example as mine.
        Yes, sanity and merit are fair game.

        Thing is, the “problem” is handguns. Assault weapons and their misuse are statistically insignificant by comparison. They do have a way of being ickier that’s not difficult to comprehend.

        The other reason assault weapons legislation gets pursued is because the goal of handgun prohibition has been lost / defeated.

        I intimated before that I find the whole AR trend a bit gauche and off-putting. Because I’m kind of a gun snob. But I don’t actually see sanity or reason in restricting them. There really is no epidemiology that would back that up.

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