To the editor:
On the one week anniversary of the Newtown slaughter, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, gave his take on the causes of the catastrophe and measures to thwart future assaults. He noted in his speech that teachers and administrators were powerless to defend themselves and their charges because they were prohibited from carrying a gun in school. He specifically mentioned the heroic actions of the principal and her inability to meet firepower with firepower. Mr. LaPierre called for armed security and implied that school staff should also be armed.
Mr. LaPierre went on to essentially say that we live in a society inundated by the pornographic violence of the entertainment industries which glorifies bloodlust. Indeed, Mr. LaPierre makes some valid points regarding the sad state of pop culture: that given the prevalence of demented individuals often under the influence of a debased entertainment industry, it would be prudent to consider posting armed security, such as a police officer, at each and every school in order to expedite a defense against (what used to be considered) the unthinkable. However, Mr. LaPierre did not address how to pay for such measures. Perhaps a 100-percent tax on all firearms would do the trick.
While it is true that there may be numerous mentally ill who are potential perpetrators of school violence, a blanket arming of schools invites the much more statistically significant workplace violence threat from which even a novice statistician could correctly project more deaths. I should be appalled then at the lack of critical thinking in Mr. LaPierre’s proposition to arm school personnel, but then again, it is obvious his target audience has priorities that supersede logic. Mr. LaPierre made no suggestions regarding the restriction of assault style weapons and large count ammunition magazines. Instead, he bemoaned the fact that an AR-15 (technically) is not an automatic weapon and that the .223 caliber round is not “the most powerful” as news media has asserted. Aside from his tone deafness regarding the timing of his statement (on the one week anniversary moments after the tolling of church bells and the moment of silence), Mr. LaPierre felt compelled to split hairs concerning the vernacular characterization of a weapon that fires at a rate in the hundreds of rounds per minute with a bullet used to blast through the Newtown Elementary entryway before killing dozens. Really?
And while the Second Amendment is an important restriction on the government, clearly it is not without limits else the citizens would be permitted virtually any weapon such as a mortars and machine guns. A reasonable accommodation for gun ownership and public safety would dictate that, at the very minimum, assault weapons would be restricted to bonded and certified storage or gun range facilities at all times, with harsh criminal penalties for violations of the law. The Bushmaster AR-15 and like weapons are useless for hunting. Its use is reserved for the range, or in the minds of some of the most ardent supporters — Armageddon.
Ultimately, the prohibition of unrestricted ownership of semi-automatic weapons and high count magazines is about balancing the weapons’ inherent risk to society against the utility of the weapons regarding “the maintenance of a well-regulated militia.” The Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment in the era of muskets and ramrods.
Seems like a no-brainer to me.
James J. Bundock