I am old enough to recall a number of frightening sensations swirling through the nation’s collective psyche immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Those who lived in major urban centers were prone to Pavlovian responses of dread at the mere sight of a low flying aircraft. The delivery of an unexpected package elicited fleeting concerns of surprise explosives, and those receiving mail in corporate settings and government offices had to wonder if anthrax could be part of an envelope’s special delivery. It was a rightfully paranoid time.
One source of comfort to be found in terrifying circumstances is knowledge. Knowing your attacker, your would-be assailant, permits power in the form of an action plan. When the culprits of the World Trade Center and Pentagon atrocities proved to be Al Qaeda-directed terrorists, the nation came together behind an all-out assault upon the foreign groups responsible for our united fear and suffering.
In 2013, the threat of chemical attack by mail has returned, this time in the form of ricin. According to a report from Good Morning America, “The toxin, which comes from castor beans, stops cells from synthesizing proteins so victims can suffer organ failure.” Ricin has experienced pop cultural ascendancy in recent years as a recurring plot point on popular AMC drama Breaking Bad. Anti-hero Walter White, a former mild-mannered chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine kingpin, uses ricin to intimidate and control potential drug cartel enemies.
However, to ascertain the root cause of the recent spate of ricin-laced letter attacks, directed at everyone from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to President Barack Obama, we need not look to the inspiration of fictional characters. Real-life villains exist within the ranks of overreaching lobby groups, inciting chaos under the guise of Second Amendment defense.
Consider the paraphrased text of one such letter delivered to gun-control advocate Bloomberg’s New York office last week. Per a report from Fox News, New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond “Kelly said the unsigned letter says, in so many words: ‘Anyone who comes for my guns will be shot in the face.’”
Now where would this deranged domestic terrorist get the idea that President Obama and Michael Bloomberg, advocates for a safer, more rational exercise of the right to bear arms, might instead demand complete surrender of personal weapons? Let us hearken back to a February 2013 Op-Ed piece in the Daily Caller from National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. Amongst a number of verbal gems, LaPierre included this thinly veiled reference to the Newtown school shootings: “A heinous act of mass murder—either by terrorists or by some psychotic who should have been locked up long ago—will be the pretext to unleash a tsunami of gun control.”
Ok but that’s just one quote taken out of context right? LaPierre didn’t really mean to suggest that failed Congressional efforts to institute common-sense universal background checks were a threat to law-abiding gun owners. No one is that crazy.
February 10, 2012, The Washington Times: “All that first term, lip service to gun owners is just part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment during his second term.”
May 4, 2013, Huffington Post: “‘political and media elites’ have tried to use Sandy Hook and other recent shootings ‘to blame us, to shame us, to compromise our freedom for their agenda….We will never surrender our guns, never,’ LaPierre told several thousand people during the organization’s annual member meeting.”
We are a people that loves justice. The reason that so many incarnations of Law & Order and CSI have experienced television ratings success is because of the appeal of the suspense boilerplate: a crime is committed, guys in uniform discover weapon and motive, emotional trial ensues, outlaw goes to the clink. It’s simple. It’s just. It’s satisfying.
I’m no prosecuting attorney but it seems to me that there’s a direct correlation between the prolific, fear-inciting rhetoric of Wayne LaPierre and the NRA, and the homicidal threats against the lives of pro-gun control elected leaders. Is a bystander who knowingly allows harm to occur guilty of something? If the answer is yes (and it is), then Wayne LaPierre is an accessory to each and every one of these ricin crimes. He may not have supplied the chemicals, but he and his group continue to dish out motive in dangerous, irresponsible bucketfuls.
Haul him to the precinct, turn on the hot lights and file some charges. I’m serious. If it’s illegal to yell “Fire!” in a public place and incite a riot, there should be no distinction between trumping up an imagined threat to the Second Amendment and standing smugly aside as violence ensues.