• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous supporter has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Bloody Legacy of Wayne LaPierre and the NRA

Listening to NRA chief Wayne LaPierre lash out at any notion of gun control during that staunch gun advocate’s first public appearance in the wake of the horrific Connecticut school shooting triggered flashbacks to defiance I once heard from 1960s-era segregationist George Wallace.

Wallace rode a racist declaration from his 1963 governorship inauguration in Alabama to campaigns for the U.S. presidency years later: “Segregation now…Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever!”

LaPierre’s refusal to embrace any reform of America’s gun laws exhibits defiance similar to arch-segregationist George Wallace — interestingly a man forced from the public political arena in 1972 by a gunman whose unsuccessful assassination attempt left Wallace paralyzed from the waist-down.

The bluster and bullshit of both LaPierre and the late Gov. Wallace are/were astounding in the extreme, each evidencing a pathological inability to accept the fact that their respective defenses of the indefensible were and are not acceptable.

George Wallace waged war against extending full civil rights to blacks while NRA head Wayne LaPierre continues to wage war against any gun control regardless of how moderate the proposed control measures are.

LaPierre and the NRA have even opposed moderate, civil measures like simply requiring gun owners to report lost and stolen weapons.

LaPierre bolsters his bluster about placing more armed guards in schools as a massacre-minimizing measure with a sophistic contention that other public buildings, like courts, have armed guards for protection.

Yet, on reporting lost/stolen weapons, LaPierre reverses his logic seeing no symmetry between government requirements to report stolen automobiles and proposed government requirements to report a stolen weapon.

As a life-long gun enthusiast/owner I don’t think a requirement to report stolen weapons is onerous or an assault on the Second Amendment as LaPierre proclaims when shooting off his mouth.

And, this more-guns advocate apparently ignores the fact that an armed guard assigned to Columbine High School didn’t stop the 1999 massacre there that left 15 dead and 23 wounded. That on-duty policeman shot at but missed one of the two Columbine teen shooters.

LaPierre and his conservative lobbyist/legislative confederates are responsible for such stupid laws as allowing students to carry guns on college campuses.

As a university professor who has received explicit death threats from students disgruntled about their failures to perform academically, I think putting guns into the hands of often emotionally-charged and/or immature students is dangerous…comparable to NRA-sanctioned laws in some states allowing persons to carry guns into bars awash with fight-inducing alcoholic beverages.

The day the university where I work allows students to carry concealed pistols – as permitted by law in some states – is the day I start toting a tactical shotgun to my classes.

Yes, my carrying a shotgun to class would be stupid, but so are the laws legally endorsing such stupidity.

Surely the NRA and the cowering elected officials who do its bidding to defend my right to heavily defend myself irrespective of the stupidity embedded in that armed-classroom scenario.

Wayne LaPierre’s recent press conference displayed both cowardice and a lack of creativity. Showing a yellow streak, he ran off from his own press event immediately after firing barbs at politicians and the press, refusing to answer any questions from reporters.

And, LaPierre’s ‘only-good-guys-with-guns-can-stop-bad-guys-with-guns’ railing during that press event was a well-worn NRA script. As far back as 1911, more than a century ago, an NRA president , objecting to a New York State law requiring police permission for purchasing pistols, La Pierre declared, “Such laws have the effect of arming the bad men and disarming the good ones.”

The impetus for that 1911 police approval requirement was the August 1910 attempted assassination of a New York City mayor by a gunman who shot the city’s mayor in the throat with a pistol.

Months after George Wallace’s 1963 defense of segregation, during his gubernatorial inauguration, a gunman assassinated U.S. President John F. Kennedy with an imported military-surplus rifle purchased through an ad carried in a NRA publication.

The NRA bitterly battled against post-Kennedy assassination gun reform efforts then led by a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, Thomas Dodd.

After the 1968 assassinations of Noble Peace Prize winning Martin Luther King Jr. and former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy – both by gunmen – the U.S. Congress finally approved some gun control measures including banning mail order sales of rifles and shotguns to private citizens.

As a pre-teen/teen during the 1960s I remember reading the hunting-&-fishing magazines my father received monthly. They were filled with ads featuring mail-order guns and supplies.

Minutes before live television spilled Wayne LaPierre’s press appearance into my living room I had completed a commentary article about my attending and participating in a gun buy-back program in Camden, NJ the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.

In that commentary I concluded that more gun control legislation without companion attention to addressing America’s visceral culture of violence constituted yet another futile exercise in dealing with symptoms not causes.

That culture of violence in this country includes the budget cutting austerity pushed by right-wing conservatives who receive political support from the NRA and like-minded entities.

Budget slashing austerity starves local governments of needed federal and state funding resulting in local governments eliminating essential services. Earlier this year the City of Camden laid off most of its police force due to lack of funding.

I took a few old firearms to that gun buy-back in Camden. And, like the majority of the mainly middle-aged to elderly, non-Camden residents who surrendered weapons that day, I eagerly took the cash offered for giving up my guns during that government sponsored/financed program.

The rifle I surrendered was my first gun as a child, a Winchester .22-caliber pump commonly called a “gallery gun” because of its wide use at carnivals and county fair target-shooting booths.

One of the police officers working at that buy-back event expressed amazement at the pristine condition of my rifle, which had been in my possession for over 50 years. He said he wanted my “gallery gun” for his personal collection, but buy-back rules required him to put it in the tub with the other weapons bound for disposal.

Wayne LaPierre’s brazen responses to the post-Sandy Hook School shooting did contain a few accurate points, one being the frequent inaccuracies in the media concerning gun-related matters.

A good example was news coverage of the Camden, NJ gun buy-back, with many reports saying how gun owners came in record numbers because they were “touched” by the Connecticut shooting.

Now that tragedy may have motivated some folks to attend that buy-back, but for many, like me, the attraction was clearly getting money for unwanted weapons to defray holiday related expenses, or in some cases to buy new guns.

I saw one woman uttering a muted shout while counting her cash as she left the buy-back. It was evident that she was reacting to getting the cash, not to the shooting that had occurred two states away.

Meanwhile LaPierre is right in railing that current gun laws are not stopping massacres. A society that has proudly stoked violence for centuries is not suddenly going to turn totally peaceful with passage of gun restriction recommendations from yet another presidential commission on violence.

A few years ago a clerk in a shop in London told me about his long-standing desire to visit America. He said he was deeply fearful of becoming a victim of violence here –- like the violence he saw regularly on television shows and movies from America.

I assured this 20-something guy at the time that the violence triggering his fears was just fictional TV and movies — an assurance I doubted even as I uttered it.

Minutes before I started writing this article I received an email from a colleague/friend in Germany.

My friend said public resistance in the US to gun reform in the wake of that Connecticut school shooting, like that oozed by the NRA, is baffling to Germans, both pro-gun and anti-gun. She said the dominant thinking across Germany is that “Those Americans are far outlandishly crazier than anybody thought possible.”

Thanks go to Wayne LaPierre and his Arm-America cohorts. Thanks for helping America retain its whacky image in the world and the gun-triggered chaos threatening lives across this nation.

Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.

 

More articles by:

Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
Anthony DiMaggio
Fake News in Trump’s America
Andrew Levine
Trump’s End Days
Jeffrey St. Clair
High Plains Grifter: the Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Fighters Always Feared Trump Would be a Treacherous Ally
Paul Street
On the TrumpenLeft and False Equivalence
Dave Lindorff
Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ But What’s New about That?
Rob Urie
Democrats Impeach Joe Biden, Fiddle as the Planet Burns
Sam Pizzigati
Inequality is Literally Killing Us
Jill Richardson
What Life on the Margins Feels Like
Mitchell Zimmerman
IMPOTUS: Droit de seigneur at Mar-a-Lago
Robert Hunziker
Methane SOS
Lawrence Davidson
Donald Trump, the Christian Warrior
William Hartung – Mandy Smithburger
The Pentagon is Pledging to Reform Itself, Again. It Won’t.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail