Listening to Wayne LaPierre testifying with feverish rage against something as common sense as background checks is causing me to rethink my position. This has been going on since Newtown and the frothing online gun nuts aren’t helping.
Up until now, I’ve been what I consider to be a moderate on gun control. I own a gun, and while I don’t like that people hunt animals with guns, I’ve been of the mind “to each their own”.
That position cost me a lot because I’m an animal lover. So I feel like I already gave a lot to get to “I’ll leave it to you if you stay out of my way.” Frankly, it’s always bothered me psychologically that hunters shoot deer when a deer’s face looks so much like a human baby’s face (I’m referring to studies about human survival; we have an innate instinct to protect our children, part of that is based on the science of facial characteristics). But I know plenty of good parents who hunt deer with a gun, so I let it go. I even allowed my brother-in-law to hunt on my property once so long as he hunted with a bow and not a gun. I don’t understand it and I don’t agree with it, but I’ve tried to respect it.
I’m not seeing any effort to return that respect of different opinions. Many of us have already expended a lot of energy trying to meet gun enthusiasts in the middle. And now we find that in the face of ongoing tragedy involving children, these same gun enthusiasts aren’t even willing to tiptoe onto the mat of compromise. Their violent rhetoric and sociopathic insensitivity is making it harder and harder to see them as anything other than out of control children.
Every time I hear Wayne LaPierre talk, I shift a bit further to the left of his craziness. Today Wayne LaPierre had the unmitigated gall to present gun owners as the “victims”. He went Sarah Palin blood libel, even as Gabby Giffords was testifying and her husband Mark Kelly testified. Even as a young girl was shot and killed in Chicago.
I’m a gun owner, and I don’t feel victimized by having to submit to a background check. In fact, I think it’s insane to suggest that anyone should be allowed to purchase a gun without a background check. I also think they should have to complete a gun safety test, just like we have to get a license to drive a car. Reasonable, law-abiding citizens should have no problem with this, because they would pass a background check.
So it hits me once again that this man has no conscience. I don’t mean that as hyperbole. I mean, quite literally, Wayne LaPierre has no empathy for other human beings. He expresses no awareness or shame or even vague recognition that perhaps today is not the day to argue against something as benign as background checks.
If the NRA won’t even consider background checks in order to honor innocent citizens’ right to live, why should I automatically concede to what the NRA claims are “rights”? They’ve been bullying people for so long that it never occurs to them that this argument is not, in fact, settled.
I’m beginning to imagine a country without weapons of mass destruction as the “right” of people who might better explore their contributions in other ways. I’m ready and willing to turn my gun in, because all I’m seeing is that guns are killing more and more innocent people. I also know that very few gun owners are actually able to use their weapons in real situations of self-defense (not the kind of vigilantism displayed in Wisconsin where a drunken woman discharged her gun after an argument with her niece, claiming the Sheriff told her it was okay because all citizens needed to arm themselves).
If you are hollering against background checks, then you obviously suspect you might not pass one, or rather, you suspect many of your customers might not pass one. So, the argument is that the gun manufacturers’ right to make a profit any way they can takes precedence over the rights of children to live (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness anyone?).
Wayne LaPierre wants to protect the profits of the NRA’s board members, so he keeps blaming video games for what guns do.
I believe that Police Chiefs know best what would work and they are for background checks and against assault weapons. I concede to their expertise, while Wayne LaPierre does not. LaPierre doesn’t have to face what our police do, and yet he feels he’s an expert. He’s not in the line of fire created by his rhetoric. Does he care about that? Obviously not. Obviously it doesn’t bother him one bit.
Yes, I realize this will only enrage people more but frankly, I don’t care. The bottom line is that the gun nuts are enraged no matter what, and the more they scream as if their life is over because sane people want background checks at gun shows, the more it’s looking as if they are completely unwilling to compromise or even acknowledge the rights of other citizens.
It’s been my experience that trying to negotiate with people like that is pointless. They’re going to scream like they’re dying, as if they are a two year old and you just took away their blanky, so you might as well make it count.
You’re going to have to listen to them screaming bloody murder, so ask for something that matters. Give them something to scream about. To that end, I’d like to propose that we go about this differently. Instead of trying to make the case why we would like these gun manufacturers to allow us to force people to have a background check before they buy an assault weapon, I’d like to put the burden on the NRA.
I’d like the NRA to argue in court that the Second Amendment comes before all others. After they win that court battle, then we can continue this debate. They need to prove that even dangerously mentally ill people’s rights to own an assault weapon comes before all other citizen’s right to live, because that is the position they are taking.
If they lose that battle, they need to defend the right to own a gun, starting from the beginning. Wayne LaPierre is bringing down the gun lobby. Sane, responsible gun owners are not being represented by this man. Each time he opens his mouth, he loses more support for the alleged principles behind the NRA.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.