The NRA’s Christmas wish: more guns in schools
Yep, that was the big announcement from NRA head Wayne LaPierre at a news conference today, the gun lobby’s first public comments since the Newtown massacre a week ago.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said in one of the many gems he unveiled at the briefing. “Politicians pass laws for gun-free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them . . . in doing so they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”
LaPierre also excoriated those who sought to use the tragedy for political gain, noting that the NRA had “remained respectably silent.” Yes, he said that. Oh, and he wants a crackdown on violent video games because, well, in NRA math the Second Amendment comes before the First Amendment. I still fear history will repeat itself and the NRA will probably win this round, too, alas.
Yes, our blood-soaked culture is a problem. But in an almost reasonable column — amazing, I know — even Charles Krauthammer puts it third behind gun control and mental illness.
But first and foremost it is the guns, stupid — fewer, not more. Fareed Zakaria said it best the other day, in a must-read column on why America has a gun homicide rate that is far higher than other countries:
So what explains this difference? If psychology is the main cause, we should have 12 times as many psychologically disturbed people. But we don’t. The United States could do better, but we take mental disorders seriously and invest more in this area than do many peer countries.
Is America’s popular culture the cause? This is highly unlikely, as largely the same culture exists in other rich countries. Youth in England and Wales, for example, are exposed to virtually identical cultural influences as in the United States. Yet the rate of gun homicide there is a tiny fraction of ours. The Japanese are at the cutting edge of the world of video games. Yet their gun homicide rate is close to zero! Why? Britain has tough gun laws. Japan has perhaps the tightest regulation of guns in the industrialized world.
The data in social science are rarely this clear. They strongly suggest that we have so much more gun violence than other countries because we have far more permissive laws than others regarding the sale and possession of guns. With 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 50 percent of the guns.
There is clear evidence that tightening laws — even in highly individualistic countries with long traditions of gun ownership — can reduce gun violence.
Read it all here.