A person who does not respect our freedom and democracy, the very essence of our nation, hates America. Wayne LaPierre hates America. Long time National Rifle Association (NRA) leader Wayne LaPierre gave a key speech again this year to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual event sponsored by the American Conservative Union (ACU), a right wing political activist group. The ACU preaches intolerance of any political thought not lock step with its hard-core philosophy. CPAC brings together like-minded individuals in a major event for Republican politicians, especially those looking for financial support to seek higher office. LaPierre is an annual featured speaker at the conference. This year, with CPAC occurring only a week after the massacre of 17 students and teachers in Parkland, Florida, would LaPierre and the NRA adjust any of their usual remarks?
The answer would come quickly as a resounding no. LaPierre characteristically clung to extreme positions that have no basis in law or fact. Although there was hope the NRA would at least attempt some form of reasonable accommodation considering yet another school mass shooting, instead he, disgustingly attacked the survivors. LaPierre and his chief lacky, Dana Loesch, gave vile, derogatory, inflammatory, and extensively false remarks. They despicably clung to fake conspiracy claims of a Socialist effort to take over the American government. They have no logical, legal, or rational response to those who disagree, thus they resort to demonizing rather than debating. Anyone not in 100% agreement is perversely labeled as subversive.
The overwhelming majority of Americans, including Republicans, support strengthening background check laws. LaPierre and the NRA oppose. A large majority of Americans support banning military grade assault weapons. LaPierre and the NRA oppose. Americans support a ban on “bump stocks” and high capacity magazines. LaPierre and the NRA oppose. To be fair, there are rank and file NRA members who support reasonable gun safety measures including these efforts, but their leadership refuses to allow even a discussion of such measures. Plenty of rank and file NRA members care about children in school and people attending concerts or movies, but their leadership does not care about innocent people being senselessly slaughtered in mass shootings. To the caring people in the NRA, the time has long passed for you to install decent leadership and end the NRA’s emphasis on extremism and vitriol. If not, you must leave the NRA and find another gun rights organization. Follow the lead of corporate America, who has finally realized that while they can support gun rights, they can no longer associate themselves with the NRA’s horrible rhetoric and ideological intransigence.
LaPierre’s answer to school shootings is to arm teachers. He prefers a shootout in a school rather than preventing an unstable individual from possessing an assault weapon. This idea fails in its very inception. A shootout in a school will increase the number of casualties. Arguably, the same could be true with law enforcement confronting the shooter, but at least they are better trained and benefit from reinforced and recurring training as part of their duties. While some teachers have experience with weapons (it is reported that fewer than 3% of teachers in the U.S. have such training), they certainly do not have the current or frequent training of law enforcement. When law enforcement responds, they need to know the only other people with guns are the bad guys. They can’t take the time to try and identify armed teachers and distinguish them from the shooters. When an event like this occurs, be it in a school, a theater, or any public place, it is pure pandemonium. Law enforcement personnel are rushing into a scene of chaos and confusion with many people panicking, trying to get out. As a veteran, I can safely say that no matter how good the training, it is never the same as when it is real. People will react differently, and accidents will happen. Even the best trained law enforcement teams suffer a much lower accuracy rate in this type of situation. The risk of killing more students goes up, not down, by arming teachers. Wouldn’t it be best to prevent as best as possible these incidents from happening?
LaPierre, Loesch, and the NRA leadership prefer even to lie to their own members and supporters rather than risk a single gun safety measure being passed. In order to maintain tight control of the organization, for years they have attempted to scare members into believing the government is coming to take their guns away and only the NRA can protect them. They used this tactic mercilessly against President Obama and Congressional Democrats, driving up the sale of weapons. That of course, is the NRA’s actual, if not only goal – to promote gun sales. However, Congressional Democrats have never been planning to repeal the 2d Amendment or pass legislation banning all weapons. There are no plans to send government agents to confiscate weapons, certainly not from law-abiding citizens. The NRA is all lies and vitriol with no substance.
President Trump called Wayne LaPierre a patriot. He is no patriot. Patriots love their country, unite people, solve problems, and believe in the rule of law. Patriots do not use vitriolic speeches to demonize those who simply have political and policy disagreements. They respect debate, not vilify anyone who disagrees. LaPierre, Loesch, and their cronies, believe anyone who is not lock step with their right-wing ideology is a subversive working against the country. No, it is they who work against the interests of our nation. All to make a point, all to make a buck. LaPierre does not believe in our freedom and democracy, he does not care about our children and would rather see them die in mass shootings rather than have one fewer gun sale. He is an extremist. He hates America. NRA members, if you love America and respect freedom and democracy, replace Wayne LaPierre or replace the NRA.