Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders there have been numerous debates nationwide about more facets and variations (and micro variations) of the incident. More variations than can be discussed here.
However, on December 21, 2012, Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association CEO, read a prepared statement joining a Nation’s horror and outrage over the massacre, and offering condolences to the grieving parents. This portion of the statement was expected, on cue and no surprise to anyone. What did surprise many Americans was LaPierre introducing the NRA’s long-term answer to school violence – National School Shield Emergency Response Program. Seemed simple enough. Good guys with guns in place to stop bad guys with guns. But there was more than surprise; there was hotly expressed anger from not just left leaning citizens, politicians and media. Some citizens that might identify themselves as moderate or even ambivalent about firearms were now angry.
I expected some of the anger, since frankly there is a certain segment of America that loathes the NRA. But I was surprised that the anger was so widespread, so long lasting and so vocal. Why the outrage?
After all, the NRA was simply suggesting that an armed presence at environments where our most vulnerable national assets congregate could prevent future tragedies. Peace officers or armed school officials at schools. To a gun owner and career law enforcement officer like me, LaPierre’s statement made perfect sense. To so many of my friends, family and peers the plan simply made good sense.
After listening to the complaints about National School Shield proposal, it appeared so many of these angry citizens are simply angry about guns. There could be no amount of NRA appeasement to calm the angry hordes and their metaphoric pitchforks – metaphoric for now. The NRA simply should have kept the initial statement focused on support for the Newtown, CT. community and the families dragged into this nightmare.
Subsequent statements soon thereafter could have focused on well-aimed digs at officials politicizing the incident, shone the light on the poor accountability of the mental health care system, an entertainment industry that profits from bloodshed, etc. In such a subsequent statement, there would have been no surprise and these ancillary topics would not have watered down the statement of condolences. And finally, a separate statement introducing the National School Shield proposal could have been made.
The single December 21st statement encompassing so much information was too much and too soon for most palates. The NRA statement gave the appearance of an organization trying to quickly to distance itself from a bad situation and absolve itself of all responsibility. And both points are correct. No organization like the NRA that is as beloved by its members as it is reviled be the Left wants to be associated with a watershed moment like Sandy Hook. And in no way can any reasonable person associate the crimes of Adam Lanza with the NRA.
One of the Left’s current leaders, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is credited with the political advice, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” And in the aftermath of Sandy Hook the gun grabbing liberals activated quickly, smartly and with a sense of purpose. Not so with the NRA.
The NRA’s CEO Wayne LaPierre is nationally perceived as the spokesman for all gun owners, though the actual member rolls would dispel that perception (an estimated 4 million members in a nation of about 100 million gun owners). However, perception is reality. And in this case the organizational mismanagement of this crisis – a crisis not of the NRA’s making, was allowed to go to waste. It leaves the NRA in a position as the bad guy with guns. And this leaves all law abiding gun owners in a position as bad guys (and gals) with guns.
You were way off target LaPierre – You need to check your political windage and elevation before squeezing off the next statement.