In one of the most bizarre press conferences held on live television, National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre launched a hostile, self-pitying attack on the media, the entertainment industry, and schools themselves for the killings in Newtown, Conn. His solution: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Interrupted twice by protestors carrying signs with sentiments such as “NRA: Blood On Its Hands,” LaPierre called for “armed security” in “every single school in America.” LaPierre said “the national media machine rewards” mass killers with coverage. He condemned “vicious, violent videogames” such as Mortal Kombat and showed a clip from a videogame called “Kindergarten Killers.” He bad-mouthed “movies such as American Psycho and Natural Born Killers.” He scolded “violent music videos” and scorned anyone who “has the nerve to call it entertainment.” Overall, the entertainment industry promotes “the filthiest form of pornography,” said LaPierre.
It was a stunning news conference. A man whose organization does its best to defeat gun legislation decried “all the noise and anger directed at us.” He had the unspeakable gall to suggest that the Sandy Hook Elementary School and its Newtown school system could have done something to prevent the killings, namely: “What if Adam Lanza … had been confronted by qualified armed security.” “Will you at least admit it is possible that 26 little kids — that 26 innocent lives — might have been spared that day?” he asked. Right: It was the fault of bureaucrats in Connecticut and Washington that caused the bloodshed. Blaming the victims? That’s more obscene than a movie, a videogame, or a music video.
Immediately after LaPierre’s remarks, CNN and MSNBC carried analysis of the NRA chief’s statements; Fox News jumped quickly over to the nomination of John Kerry for Secretary of State and more debate about “the fiscal cliff.” It will be interesting to see how LaPierre’s proposals are covered in the news media over the rest of the day and night.
The deeper one delves into the content of LaPierre’s remarks, the more offensive they become. He said the country is “one news cycle away” from another violent rampage. Why? Because thousands upon thousands of what he called “the mentally ill” are eager to copycat crime? He said the country is “one hurricane away” from another violent rampage. Why? Because what he called “deranged, evil, monsters” might use guns during hurricanes? Was this a veiled reference to looters that need to be shot?
“Since when did ‘gun’ become a bad word?” asked LaPierre. Well, it became a bit dirty after this press conference, Mr. LaPierre. Whereas before your remarks, the national discussion was focused on “assault weapons,” not a blanket condemnation of “guns,” you’re the one who brought that up. You’re the guy whose over-the-top rhetoric mars the image of lawful gun-owners, while doubtlessly bolstering the efforts of people who seek stronger gun legislation.
LaPierre’s press conference was one definition of the phrase “shooting yourself in the foot.”