Wayne LaPierre calls for guns accompanied by police as the one and only possible solution to the tragedies of our times. In supporting his position, the NRA presents three assumptions: (i) armed defenders is the silver bullet; (ii) no other solution can avoid the harm; and (iii) that no solution other than one that is perfect is worthy of discussion, when fundamental rights are in play.
The three assumptions are dogs that don't hunt. They sound like more relaxed statements that may be salutary, but used in the manner La Pierre tends to do, they are false and dangerous pabulum that leads nowhere. Of course, since that is his goal at times like this, he can be expected to use that framing. The danger is that he funds the political fortune of a great number of policymakers, who ape the fallacious reasoning.
It is useful to consider his words, and to note that, at least this time, he proved too much. His own words point the way to a broader, more robust solution. More after the squiggly squiggle.
It is only fair to note what LaPierre did say:
[N]obody has addressed the most important, pressing and immediate question we face: How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?It doesn't take much to shut down the absolutist argument, because a good guy with a gun is neither necessary nor sufficient. A good guy with a gun might be helpless against a bad guy with a tank (or an assault weapon). A good guy with a gun might not be at the right place or in time to be responsive. Loughhner was subdued by unarmed bystanders until arrested by the armed police, and not before Gabby Giffords was shot multiple times. And the good guy with the gun might not be able to get a clear shot against a reckless depraved heart shooter in a crowd.
The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
So there are other ways to stop bad guys with a gun, and good guys with a gun may not be sufficient to stop them. There is no silver bullet, but even if there was, it would be no good if the good guy is shot, disabled or not in the right place at the right time.
While not being an effective or only solution, what might go wrong by placing armed minimum wage workers in a school system? I could go on forever, but obviously, the employee might be subdued to obtain his weapon for harm, the employee might go postal, or the employee might seek out the position for the very purpose of being a wolf in a henhouse, armed and in the company of many children. And by the way, how is a school, particularly in low income districts, going to afford hiring a music teacher going to be able to hire a competent, reliable and professional rent-a-cop?
Perhaps LaPierre's false statement that the "only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun" points the way to other, more practical solutions? In particular, perhaps we might try to reduce or mitigate the bad guy having the gun. We might begin the problem by refining our notion of "bad guy," to be limited to the young, first-break psychotics that seem to be the most common perpetrators of these horrors, and look for meaningful ways to keep them from ready access to guns, or at least to weapons with high-volume magazines?
Perhaps we might deter deterrable, rational, healthy owners of such weapons from providing access or failing to secure such weapons with meaningful penalties, and enforcement mechanisms including inspections of the security so provided? Perhaps we might seriously approach mental health and carefully consider what can be done to intercede between the time someone is diagnosable, to slow the ease with which the means of tragedy are obtained and the time a trigger is pulled? Hell, at least provide someone with health care so that it is easier to get help than to get a gun.
Franklin poignantly wrote that "they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." I share this sentiment. However, essential liberties are not without consequences and fencing off checks against those liberties in the name of absolute libertarianism has never been the practice in America. Freedom of speech is not absolute, whether or not it should be, and the NRA has already supported significant invasions of fourth and fifth amendment liberties that were greatly curtailed by the Patriot Act.
Whatever the solution is, the dialog must be improved. Stonewalling with pabulum should be excoriated, and thus exposes the NRA from its PR veneer as defender of legitimate rights for the interest of a healthy nation, to a well-funded entity existing to protect a single-minded special interest at the expense of all other relevant rights and interests.
He doesn't make this argument because it makes sense. He makes it because it makes dollars for his organization.