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The NRA’s Double Standard

After a crazed man shot and killed 20 students and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December, 2012, NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Nothing else. A good guy with a gun is the only thing.  LaPierre’s response to the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard the following year (12 dead, 3 wounded) was the same: “There weren’t enough good guys with guns.  When the good guys with guns got there it stopped.”

Almost a year to the day after the Newtown shooting, the NRA ballyhooed a school shooting that was, arguably, stopped by an armed guard:

[T]he attacker’s rampage was stopped short by the quick response of an armed deputy sheriff who was working as a resource officer at the school.  Upon learning of the threat, the deputy ran from the cafeteria to the library, yelling for people to get down and identifying himself as a deputy sheriff.  The horrific incident lasted only a total of 80 seconds and ended with the shooter turning his gun on himself in the library as the deputy was closing in on him.  

”We know for a fact that the shooter knew that the deputy was in the immediate area and, while the deputy was containing the shooter, the shooter took his own life,” Sheriff Robinson said.  Robinson said the deputy’s response was “a critical element to the shooter’s decision” to kill himself.

NRA Institute for Legislative Action, “Stopped in 80 Seconds: Armed Response, Not Gun Control, Halted School Rampage
(December 20, 2013).

So where’s the NRA now that the issue of so many unarmed black men getting shot dead has finally seeped into the national consciousness?

Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, was gunned down by George Zimmerman in Florida in April 2012.  The NRA was strangely silent.

Jordan Davis, another unarmed black teenager, was gunned down by Michael Dunn in Florida in November, 2012.  The NRA was strangely silent.

Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was gunned down by a cop in Ferguson, Missouri, two weeks ago. The NRA has been silent. (I can’t say “strangely silent” at this point – it seems to be a regular thing now.)

In fact, my informal research on Facebook shows that many conservatives and gun-nuts appear to support the police and citizens who shot the unarmed black men, saying these men must have somehow deserved it. Some comments following a friend’s post of a story by The Root showing four unarmed black men shot by police since July suggested that the victims were not actually innocent. One comment angrily asked, “I wonder how many unarmed people were affected by these guys? I just wonder how they got themselves into position to get shot?”

The silence of the NRA is even more conspicuous given that the solution to the shooting of unarmed black men presumably, in NRA-think, could be solved with the usual NRA logic: Arm the victims– as David Harris Gershon wrote in the Daily Kos after Trayvon Martin was gunned down. Gershon’s asking why the NRA wasn’t calling for young black men to arm themselves was ironic, as it seemed, then and now, farfetched that the NRA would ever make such a proposal.

“Wait, wait,” I can almost hear the NRA say in a moment of truth: “If we arm black men, then that will mean that … black men will be armed!  Moreover, the point isn’t to arm guys to shoot cops!! We like cops!  They’re the GOOD GUYS WITH GUNS!”

But the NRA isn’t against shooting all cops. Indeed, one of the classic defenses of gun ownership by citizens is that armed citizens can fend off “jack-booted government thugs.” I’m pretty sure that a cop who shoots an unarmed man can be defined as a jack-booted government thug. As far as I can tell, the NRA hasn’t risen to the defense of any unarmed black men.

Yet the NRA did denounce, as jack-booted thugs, the police officers who assaulted and killed David Koresh and 75 of his followers (mostly white) in Waco in 1993, and white supremacist Randy Weaver’s wife and son at Ruby Ridge in 1992, as EJ Montini showed in the Arizona Republic.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Why isn’t the NRA standing up for black men? It seems that the only conclusion is that the NRA thinks black men aren’t – and never can be – “good guys.”

The NRA might as well change its name to KKK.

Brian J. Foley is a lawyer and comedian and the author of A New Financial You in 28 Days! A 37-Day Plan! (Gegensatz Press 2011)