Maybe the NRA's "Crazy Wayne" LaPierre wants us to call him "crazy" so we won't call him worse
From today's New York Daily News:
BY ERIN DURKIN / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Mental health experts recoiled at comments by NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre blaming violence on "lunatics" and "monsters" roaming the streets -- and touting more guns as a form of protection.
The American Psychiatric Association and a number of leading researchers denounced the comments as offensive and inaccurate.
"If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," LaPierre said Sunday on “Meet the Press.”
"I have people all over the country calling me saying, 'Wayne, I went to bed safer last night because I have a firearm. Don't let the media try to make this a gun issue."
Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, said LaPierre was playing into fears that are uniquely Americans.
"Mr. LaPierre is right when he says his members feel stronger, safer, more powerful with weapons in their houses and in their hands — but whether in fact they are safer is another question," he said. . . .
The mind continues to reel at the imbecility of the notion that stationing a knuckle-dragger with a gun in every school in the land will do anything except the increase the flow of maimed and killed schoolchildren. How smart do you have to be to grasp the obvious fatuity?
There was, in fact, enormous controversy when the NYPD was charged with responsibility for school security and with it the right to selectively post officers with weapons in schools -- but even that is galaxies removed from what Crazy Wayne is suggesting, which is creating an entirely new category of employment, school gun-toter, to patrol every school in the land. And say, are the right-wingers who make up Crazy Wayne's great right-wing Terror Brigade of Tiny Penisers among our hardest-core opponents of Big Government?
I want to cite a couple of points on this subject made in an online post today by The New Yorker's Alec Wilkinson called "The Dark Presence of Guns." But first I want to toss in an earlier point Alec makes from his own experience as an armed law-encorcement agent.
In the post Alec is harking back to the year he spent, age 22, as a cop on Cape Cod (Wellfleet, to be exact). He was issued a gun and taken to a firing range, where he was "given six bullets to shoot at a hillside, which was all I could hit." He writes that it was the first time he ever fired a gun, "and by the time the chambers were empty I understood something:"
a gun was an object in which a power of nature was concentrated so forcefully that a person could use one and feel party to a solemn and thrilling mystery. The thought crossed my mind, unbidden, that if I pointed the gun at the man beside me I could end his life. I don't mean that I had a murderous impulse, I mean that I had become aware of the authority that the gun had given me. Absent its hard, mechanical shell in my hand, I had no special power. I was just a guy.He writes about the occasional circumstances under which he very occasionally pulled his gun during his time in law enforcement, under now-pretty comical circumstances that clearly they weren't so comical at the time) I'll let you read about for yourself. About his own experience as a shooter, he writes:
I don't think there is any mystery to understanding the passionate feelings people have for guns. Nobody really believes it's about maintaining a militia. It's about having possession of a tool that makes a person feel powerful nearly to the point of exaltation. What argument can meet this, I am not sure, especially since the topic isn't openly discussed. To people who support owning guns, the issue is treated as a right and a matter of democracy, not a complicated subject also involving elements of personal mental health. I am not saying that people who love guns inordinately are unstable; I am saying that a gun is the most powerful device there is to accessorize the ego.We come now to the question raised by Crazy Wayne. "As for the assertion that someone with a gun might have prevented one of these recent catastrophes," Alec writes, "I can think of two things to say."
One is that the idea of a solitary figure with a hand gun dispatching a man in combat gear with an assault rifle is not a sensible one. I knew only one cop who had fired his gun at someone, and he had missed the man completely. I asked what had happened, and he said, "I got a sudden case of shaky hands."
The second is that some years ago I wrote a book called "A Violent Act," which appeared in two issues of this magazine. The book concerns the permanent shadow cast across the lives of a woman and her two little boys when a man on a rampage killed her husband with a sawed-off shotgun. This happened one morning in Indianapolis. The husband had been a probation officer who came to the man's house for an interview. The killer shot him as he walked toward the front door, then left in a car. He drove to a convenience store where he shot the clerk when the man didn't hand over the money from the cash register fast enough. Over the next few hours he killed a few more people and kidnapped others in Indiana and Missouri -- by the end of the day he was the most sought after criminal at large in America -- and then he crashed his car beside a highway and ran into some woods and disappeared. In reconstructing the day, I sought out as many witnesses as I could find, and one was a man who had been in the store when the shotgun went off. He had had a handgun in his coat pocket. I asked why he hadn't used it. "It just all happened too fast," he said," and by the time I might have got to it, he had the jump on me."
NONE OF WHICH IS TO SAY THAT BETTER GUN
CONTROL WILL MEAN "NO MORE NEWTOWNS"
The gun issue really is a complex one, and Michael Moore has a terrific post up on the subject on HuffPost, "Celebrating the Prince of Peace in the Land of Guns."
These gun massacres aren't going to end anytime soon.Do I have to add that Michael proceeds to "address the core problem we have"? I encourage you to read his address yourself. I'm going to come back to it tomorrow.
I'm sorry to say this. But deep down we both know it's true. That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep pushing forward -- after all, the momentum is on our side. I know all of us -- including me -- would love to see the president and Congress enact stronger gun laws. We need a ban on automatic AND semiautomatic weapons and magazine clips that hold more than 7 bullets. We need better background checks and more mental health services. We need to regulate the ammo, too.
But, friends, I would like to propose that while all of the above will certainly reduce gun deaths (ask Mayor Bloomberg -- it is virtually impossible to buy a handgun in New York City and the result is the number of murders per year has gone from 2,200 to under 400), it won't really bring about an end to these mass slayings and it will not address the core problem we have. . . .