This post has been updated since first posted.
For too many families, this holiday season will be devastating. The grief will be overwhelming and too much to bear. This morning, people in Newtown and all over the country honored the 20 small children and 6 adults massacred last Friday at around 9:30 a.m. EST. Firefighters and law enforcement officers were grief stricken, openly weeping. The images are haunting. Are these the videos and photos we want to keep seeing in America? Is this our new way of life? Is this our future? It appears that it is. Further, it is the way of life bought and paid for by the NRA lobbyists and the politicians who are beholden to them. This is the gun culture we have as a result of the last 30 years or so of the extreme policies of the gun lobbyists. This is what they wanted- too many guns carried and owned by too many people resulting in too many shootings of too many innocent people. That has to stop. We can't do this any more. As President Obama said, "We can't tolerate this any more." Even some in the gun rights community realize this. As I wrote in my last post, many people who were previously under the spell of the NRA have awakened and said no more. The list is growing of people who thought it was safe to be supported by and to support the NRA have realized that it is no longer safe. It is no longer a good idea nor is it responsible.
And now, I have just watched the circus performance of the NRA's CEO Wayne LaPierre and I'm so disgusted and sick that I don't even know where to begin. To put it mildly, it was crazy and pathetic. Is this a man that should be leading the nation's largest lobby organization? Raise your hand if you think this was a good performance today? Everything LaPierre said was offensive to the families of the massacred children. Everything he said was a lie. There is no discussion and no compromise if this is the voice of the extreme NRA. Any politician who wants to align themselves with LaPierre should be ashamed and made to answer tough questions. The NRA broke it's silence. They should have stayed silent. For in speaking, the true agenda became painfully and awkwardly clear. The NRA does not care about saving lives. They care about themselves and they care about gun sales. Just an hour after the nation paused to honor the lives of the dead, Wayne LaPierre chose to issue his bizarre statement about the school shooting. I'm guessing that after this bizarre performance by LaPierre, the list of politicians ready to join the majority to change our gun laws will grow much longer.
I am still so stunned that I don't know what to write. Here are some of the comments from this propaganda stunt today:
From the headlines in Business Insider Politics- " Stunning NRA Press Conference Blames Shooting On Media, Video Games, Movies And Calls On Congress To Put Cop In Every School":
And this one from Huffington Post. " NRA Press Conference: Wayne LaPierre Calls For Armed Police Officers At Every School". From the article:In what was a rather stunning, half-hour press conference, the National Rifle Association called on Congress to put armed police officers in every school in America. The highly anticipated press conference came one week after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., last week.CEO Wayne LaPierre blamed many things in his press conference for the influx of mass shootings in the U.S. — everything from gun-free school zones, the media, movies, violent video games, hurricanes, and a lack of government funding."The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said.At the same time, he deflected any criticism the organization has taken over the past week, saying the organization "remained respectfully silent." He was interrupted by two separate protestors at the event, after which the NRA did not take questions.LaPierre said that the NRA is calling on Congress to put armed security guards in every school. The NRA has set up a website to advance the cause.
He took no questions. Why? For all America was anticipating that the NRA was going to offer some actual solutions to gun violence prevention. Instead, in the person of its' CEO, Wayne LaPierre, it chose to blame everything but the guns. LaPierre's blame of video games and the use of fake guns absolutely belies the fact that real children were killed with real guns last Friday. He is living in a fantasy world where armed people can protect us all. It hasn't worked so far and in fact, more guns have equaled more killings. Other countries have violent video games. But they don't have violent shootings every day. Other countries have mentally ill people. They just don't have a lot of mentally ill people with such easy access to guns. His ideas will fall on deaf ears because most people understand that our real problem in America is our weak gun laws. If LaPierre had offered anything practical or credible, maybe we could offer a little respect. But now we see where he is going. The NRA will resist all attempts at reasonable gun laws that will actually save lives. There is not one iota of common sense in anything LaPierre said. We are better than this as a country."The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said.He blamed video games, movies and music videos for exposing children to a violent culture day in and day out."In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes," LaPierre said.He refused to take any questions after speaking. Still, though security was tight, two protesters were able to interrupt LaPierre's speech, holding up signs that blamed the NRA for killing children. Both were escorted out, shouting that guns in schools are not the answer.
Just to highlight what the NRA and Wayne LaPierre are all about, please look again at this showing Wayne LaPierre in one of his best performances:
Happy holidays everyone. Happy holidays to any NRA members who thought your organization would actually engage in the national conversation. There will be no happy holidays for too many people this season. I will think of them while trying to enjoy my holiday with my family. Wayne LaPierre just threw in his lump of coal and wished us all a "Bah Humbug." I hope the Ghosts of Christmas visit him to bring him some awareness that what he has been doing is just plain wrong. And may the Ghost of Christmas future show the NRA that it is becoming irrelevant. The lives of our children and grandchildren depend on doing the right thing so that they can grow up to have a future. The only way to honor their deaths is to move forward with national action to stop future shootings. Future restrictions on assault weapons and high capacity magazines have to be on the table. Requiring background checks on all gun sales have to be on the table. For these are measures that can actually save lives. What the NRA just offered up is not a plan to save lives. It is a way to save face and save the gun industry. Such cynicism should not be accepted as credible or useful in any way.
I knew it wouldn't be long before I had to update this post. Here is a beautiful statement posted on the Facebook page of Mark Kelly, husband of Gabby Giffords, about the NRA's press conference hours ago:
""Gabby and I are extremely disappointed by the NRA's defiant and delayed response to the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The NRA could have chosen to be a voice for the vast majority of its own members who want common sense, reasonable safeguards on deadly firearms, but instead it chose to defend extreme pro-gun positions that aren't even popular among the law abiding gun owners it represents. Today, the NRA chose narrow partisan concerns over the safety of our families and communities. The time for this kind of extreme rhetoric is over. We must have a real conversation about preventing gun violence, because when it comes to protecting our children, families, and neighbors, we can't wait any longer.""
While Wayne LaPierre was giving his bizarre performance, another spree shooting occurred in Pennsylvania:
Tragic and predictable.A series of shootings along a stretch of road in rural Pennsylvania has left four people dead and three state troopers injured, according to WJAC.Three men and one woman were killed on Friday about 70 miles west of Harrisburg, Blair County District Attorney Rich Consiglio said.The gunman was among those slain, the website reports.The officers did not suffer life-threatening injuries, Consigliio saidThis is a breaking news story that will be updated.
Here is the official statement from Protect Minnesota in response to Wayne LaPierre's press conference:
PROTECT MINNESOTA RESPONDS TO NRA STATEMENT
ST PAUL, MINNESOTA (December 21, 2012) – In response to the NRA statementtoday that every school should have an armed police officer, Protect MinnesotaExecutive Director Heather Martens responded that the stance of gun lobbyistWayne LaPierre is neither surprising nor in touch with reality.
Martens pointed out that there are about 2,600 public schools in Minnesota,compared to about 650 officers in the whole St. Paul Police Department, and about650 agents in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to monitor all of thiscountry’s tens of thousands of licensed gun dealers.
“What this says is that this NRA top lobbyist would rather we spend billions ofdollars than lift a finger to prevent mentally ill and dangerous people from gettingaccess to firearms – even assault weapons – in the first place. That is astounding.”“The bottom line is that we have the right to be safe in our communities. Thanksto decades of work by the NRA lobbyists, we have the weakest gun laws in theindustrialized world, and the highest rate of gun death by far.”
She noted that Columbine High School had armed guards during the massacre in1999. “Since then, this country has set laws the way the NRA lobbyists wantedthem. And the devastation their gun policy has caused American families has beenhorrific.”
The United States has a rate of homicide 7 times that of other wealthy nations,driven by a gun homicide rate that is 20 times higher, according to David Hemenwayof the Harvard School of Public Health.
“There are measures we can take that have broad support in the American public,including gun owners, “Martens said. “That includes background checks beforeevery gun purchase. There is also wide recognition that high-capacity magazinesand assault weapons do not belong on our streets.”
Currently, only 60 percent of gun purchases are required to go through abackground check. And still nearly 2 million purchases by prohibited buyers havebeen stopped by Federal checks since the Brady Background Check Act took effectin 1994. According to Republican national pollster Frank Luntz, three out of four NRA members supports a background check before every gun purchase. Overall inMinnesota, 82 percent of the public supports the idea. In Minnesota, there is alsoa local background check, which stops many potentially dangerous people fromgetting guns.
“It is time to require background checks for all gun purchases, and to allow lawenforcement to act preventively on a person’s gun access when they encounterred-flag behaviors by potentially dangerous people. There is no need for the levelof lethal firepower this shooter had to be readily available. It is time to do fix ourbroken gun laws,” Martens said. “We need to protect our right to be safe, not thenotion that the right for anybody to buy a gun is more important than everythingelse.”
“The more-guns-more-places approach is completely discredited. If that theoryworked, the first victim of Adam Lanza’s rampage, his mother, would still be alive.Nancy Lanza was a gun collector and accomplished shooter, killed in her own homesurrounded by her guns. None of that did her any good,”"
And here is the official response from the Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence:
Brady Campaign President Sends Message to the Millions of NRA Members
Dec 21, 2012(Washington, DC) – Today, Daniel Gross, the President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said, “What was said today is not indicative of the conversation the American public wants to have.” He then extended the following message to the millions of Americans who hold an NRA membership.“To the 74 percent of NRA members who support requiring a criminal background check of anyone purchasing a gun…To the 87 percent of NRA members who believe that the 2nd Amendment can coexist with efforts to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals… To all NRA members who believe like we do, that we are better than this, we send this message… Join us. Join us in making sure the gun violence ends now. We are all Americans and we all agree we are better than this.”
Most of the comments coming in after Wayne LaPierre's bizarre press event today are negative and not supportive. From this article:
Revolting and tone deaf. Make no sense. How dare they? Dumb. Bizarre. Haunting. Disturbing.The National Rifle Association chief’s defiant response to the massacre in Newtown outraged firearms foes, city mayors, police chiefs — and even some prominent Republicans.“I don’t even know where to begin,” Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said on MSNBC. “As a supporter of the Second Amendment and a supporter of the NRA, I just found it very haunting and very disturbing that we are a country talking about arming our teachers and principals in classrooms.”An aide to a top Senate Republican called LaPierre’s speech “dumb” and “bizarre.”Instead of lampooning the media, LaPierre should “have focused on the children you’re defending” not “the people you’re mad at,” said the staffer who asked not to be identified.Among those most insulted by LaPierre’s diatribe — in which he called for armed guards at schools and railed against the media — were the still-mourning residents of Newtown.“How dare they?” fumed Elizabeth Murphy, 42, who lives int the town. “We are all still grieving. This is the wrong time to discuss their goal of putting more guns on the street . . . The bodies haven’t even all been buried yet.”The speech appalled Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who represents Newtown in Congress. He took to Twitter to express his fury.“Walking out of another (Newtown) funeral and was handed the NRA transcript. The most revolting, tone deaf statement I’ve ever seen,” tweeted Murphy, who will be sworn in as the state’s next senator in January.LaPierre’s remarks inflamed Democrats and irked Republicans across the nation.New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he believes LaPierre’s proposals make no sense.