Commentary: Let the NRA pay for America’s gun party
By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – A couple of New York newspapers had a lot of fun with National Rifle Association honcho Wayne LaPierre’s suggestion that the way to prevent mass shootings at America’s schools would be to put armed guards at every one of them.
The New York Daily News ran a front-page picture of LaPierre – looking as if his rabies condition was about to froth over – with the headline “Craziest Man on Earth.” The New York Post went one better with a headline that said “Gun Nut” and a subhead that read “NRA loon in bizarre rant over Newtown.’
John Krull, executive editor, TheStatehouseFile.com
Now, that’s unkind.
What did LaPierre ever to do to those folks at the Daily News and the Post? The man selflessly – think of Mother Theresa, but imagine that she were protecting muzzle velocity rather than serving the poor – has dedicated his life to making sure that any American, however unbalanced, can get his or her hands on a military-style weapon with the capacity to kill dozens of innocent human beings in a matter of seconds.
Who could object to that?
There also were some mean-spirited citizens who argued that it was inconsistent – well, actually, they used that ugly word “hypocritical” – for a group such as the NRA, which prides itself on protecting liberty, to call for turning the nation’s kindergarten classrooms into little police states.
Those folks are just short-sighted.
We need to give the thinking from LaPierre and the NRA all the consideration it deserves. They may have revolutionized problem-solving in this country.
Here’s the challenge LaPierre and his brain trust attacked. Every year, between 8,000 and 9,000 Americans die of gun-inflicted wounds. That’s the equivalent of a Newtown massacre every day of the year.
That clearly worried LaPierre and his troubleshooters so they came up with an audacious response.
If the problem is that too many Americans are getting killed by too many guns, the solution must be … more guns.
Imagine the ways this kind of thinking could be applied to solve other problems confronting America and Americans.
There are too many Americans who have drug problems, so the solution must be … more drugs.
Too many American children struggle with health-threatening obesity, so the solution must be … more junk food in the schools.
The beauty of the NRA’s illuminating insight is that it does not require the people involved ever to make a difficult decision, exercise any intellectual discipline or show any moral courage. All they have to do is think and act the way they always have and the problem will just go away.
The idea is so good that several Indiana leaders – including incoming Gov. Mike Pence – already agree that they don’t even need to think about revisiting gun laws.
It’s hard to see why anyone would call LaPierre crazy when he comes up with a plan that good.
Now, there are bound to be some naysayers out there who have nothing better to do with their time than poke holes in the NRA’s carefully thought-out strategy for bringing about more peace and brotherhood by building ever bigger stockpiles of deadly weapons.
Those nattering nabobs doubtless will point out that putting an armed guard – just one – in every school in America is bound to cost money. A lot of money.
Again, that just shows how short-sighted they are.
There is an easy way to pay for this.
There are between 300 million and 400 million privately owned guns in this country. We could fund this armed-guard-in-every-school idea of the NRA’s by placing a modest annual tax on each privately owned firearm – say $500 per weapon.
That would generate between $150 billion and $200 billion every year, which should allow us to have guards everywhere that America’s students congregate.
One great thing about this idea is that it wouldn’t violate the Second Amendment or any state constitution’s guarantee of the right to bear arms, no matter how those constitutional provisions are worded.
But that’s not the best thing about taking LaPierre’s idea and funding it by taxing gun ownership more heavily.
No, the best thing is that it honors the NRA’s contribution to our political dialogue. America’s weapons policies are the gun lobby’s party. They should have the privilege of paying for it.
When gun owners do that, they can honestly say they have put their money where Wayne LaPierre’s mouth is.
John Krull is director of Franklin College/s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 FM Indianapolis and executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.