Monday, December 24, 2012

An Armed Guard in Every Pot

Besides appropriating the l928 Republican campaign promise of  “a chicken in every pot,” to guns (the slogan would be “an armed guard in every school”), at Friday’s news conference Wayne LaPierre of the N.R.A made the argument that current attempts to ban assault rifles and other semiautomatic weapons would some how take them out of the hands of those who could offer security like veterans, firefighters, security guards, retired policeman and, if you could read between LaPierre’s lips, eventually the police themselves. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,”the Times quoted LaPierre as saying (“N.R.A. Envisions 'a Good Guy With a Gun’ in Every School,” NYT, 12/21/12). No one advocating gun control in the United States is presently arguing for the model of the old fashioned unarmed British Bobby so if LaPierre was attacking gun opponents for trying to take assault rifles away from those who are deployed by society to use them, he was attacking a straw horse. But this is an interesting debate style. Use hyperbole to criticize something that your opponent isn’t saying so that you can divert interest from the thrust of what he is indeed advocating--which in this case is an across the board ban on the average Joe using weapons that can cause mass destruction. However, let’s take LaPierre’s tact and suggest that what the gun lobby is arguing for is the right for citizens to do anything they want to protect their loved ones. Guns are just the tip of the iceberg. If we follow the logic, why shouldn’t citizens be allowed to possess mortars or tactical range nuclear weapons? Why shouldn’t they be allowed to protect themselves from intruders by placing land mines on their lawns? So what if Fido is blown to smithereens. LaPierre didn’t state that the N.R.A was in favor of citizens possessing these kinds of weapons, but those for gun control didn’t say anything  about preventing the police and others in the security business from doing their jobs, either.


  1. Logic has never been the strong point of La Pierre, Cheney and other authoritarians (see Robert Altemeyer's book, "The Authoritarians", available free online, for illumination on why rational arguments don't work on the 22% of our society that are authoritarian followers or leaders). A friend asked me this morning why, if (as La Pierre claims) equality in arms is the road to peace and safety, do we work so to limit nuclear arms internationally? Good question, and a point you make so well here... Though I can think of a couple of neighbors in the village who might like the idea of land-mining their front yards to keep their neighbors' dogs from doing their business there...
    Here's my problem...I'm not sure I feel 'safe' in a country where the only people with weapons of mass killing are the police. Too many times we have seen hysterical over-reaction by the police to situations against unarmed civilians. Not every Joe Testosterone on the police force is capable of cool rational thinking when he has his finger on the trigger. Too often shooting is the first resort by police to provocation by civilians. I say this having worked for a police department and seeing operations from the inside. I know their job is perilous. I know that wearing a uniform makes them a symbol and a target. But they are not infallible.
    I am a former shooting enthusiast who realized that, when violence is used to resolve a disagreement, the ones with the best weapons win, not the ones with the best, most rational argument. I quit guns in 1972.

  2. All good points Jylle. A number of decades ago there was a pump action water gun that was very much in vogue with young kids. It was the kind of thing you had to get up at the crack of dawn and rush to the local K Mart to get--when and if a shipment was coming into town. I guess in my utopia we would all be shooting at each other with water guns. However, I’m sure that wouldn’t satisfy the bad guys or LaPierre’s good guys. Now the question of vesting one’s faith in one individual or department who will be the proxy for The Good is questionable since we are conferring agency onto something human and hence hugely imperfect, but the only alternative is massive passive resistance in which all of civilized society lays down arms and dares their executioners to pull the trigger.

  3. Francis, It worked recently in Bolivia in the rebellion against the privatization of water...a change of Mind is the only thing creates real change in the world (or governmental policy, or create a new cultural meme).


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