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December 27th, 2012

I thought that, if Wayne LaPierre were to appear on Meet the Press, that there might be at the very least equal-sided coverage. Instead, I think I saw why he chose that venue: it was hardly a challenge to him. Gregory did a rather lame job of holding LaPierre to the fire, and afterwards, instead of hearing the other side, we got Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer, with Schumer being extremely moderate at best. LaPierre and Graham making the same virulent case, and Schumer kind of saying “can’t we all just get along?” I am sure that LaPierre apologists will claim that Gregory was “tough” on him, but he was not, and was equally aggressive (not very, but acted like it) to all three men.

I wish I lived in an age of actual journalism. Did such an age ever exist? If so, I wonder what it was like.

Let’s go over LaPierre’s statements. Gregory began by asking if guns should be part of the argument; LaPierre countered the same way Graham did later: with crocodile tears for the victims:

We all have five year olds– in our families in some way. I mean we all put ourselves in that situation, and the tears flow down our eyes.

In short, “I don’t want to answer your question and want to appear sympathetic instead.” He does a poor job of it. I use the term “crocodile tears” not just because LaPierre and his patrons profit from tragedies like this and have no intention of turning their attention inward, but because he seriously looked reptilian when he said that. Even the phrasing was insincerely artificial. But the delivery was downright creepy.

He continues:

The N.R.A., made up of all these moms and dads, parents, we have 11,000 police training instructors. We have 80,000 police families. We’re four million members. And we sat down and we said, “What we can we do will actually make a difference today to make these kids safe?

In an example of why he was in fact horribly ineffective, Gregory simply let this pass. The correct response would have been, ”Setting aside for the moment that you do not represent the actual opinions of nor have you actually engaged the vast majority of all of those people you claim to have standing right behind you in lockstep, you did not answer my question, sir.“

Instead, this ass simply gets to walk away leaving the impression that he somehow had a 4-million-person round table and that everyone agreed with what he’s pushing. What I would love to see is how many people have mailed back their torn-up membership cards; a healthy number, I suspect, and one the NRA will never share.

You know, look. I know there’s a media machine in this country that wants to blame guns every time something happens. I know there’s an anti-second amendment industry in this country.

So now he is establishing that (a) only guns are blamed in the media, and (b) there’s an anti-gun ”machine“ (read: conspiracy), all bent on giving guns a bad name. Aside from paranoid, it is a projection; there is no ”machine,“ or else gun control would be stronger by now—the machine is the one LaPierre himself runs. As for the media, not to mention the president, all have been talking about a variety of answers from day one.

If it’s crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our school to protect our children, then call me crazy.

No problem there. I went over this before.

Gregory lamely keeps trying to get LaPierre to answer his first question, about whether guns should even be considered as a possible point to be regarded. He somewhat confusingly replied:

Gun control, you could ban all Dianne Feinstein’s, you could do whatever she wants to do with magazines, it’s not going to make any kid safer. We’ve got to get to the real problems, the real causes. And that’s what the N.R.A. is trying to do.
And I think, I’ll tell you this, I have people all over the country calling me saying, ”Wayne, I went to bed safer last night because I have a firearm. Don’t let the media try to make this a gun issue.“

In short, what he’s really saying is ”no.“

Next, LaPierre tries to dismiss the notion that armed guards at schools cannot stop mass shootings:

And let’s talk about what happened at Columbine, okay? There were armed guards there, and they didn’t go in. They were under orders that if something happened, they would have called the police for backup. … And they waited for the SWAT team to show up, and the SWAT team set outside and tried to figure out what to do. Every procedure has been changed since Columbine as a result of that … They’ve changed every police procedure since Columbine. I mean I don’t understand why you can’t, just for a minute, imagine that when that horrible monster tried to shoot his way into Sandy Hook School, that if a good guy with a gun had been there, he might have been able to stop…

To all of this, Gregory lamely responds that the Columbine officers exchanged fire with ”the shooters.“ Actually, it was just Harris, and focusing on Columbine only strengthens LaPierre’s argument, as he made a vague point about procedures that seems to explain off Columbine. The correct response for Gregory would have been, ”Even if Columbine’s procedures were wrong, Virginia Tech had an entire police department, and Fort Hood was a military base filled with trained armed soldiers. Even the Secret Service ultimately cannot keep presidents from being killed if the assailant is willing to sacrifice his own life, and if a man dresses in body armor and has a semi-automatic rifle with a 100-cartridge drum, a police officer with a pistol stands little chance of preventing a great deal of carnage. Not to mention that studies have shown that armed guards in schools can have a deleterious effect on the children.“

Instead, Gregory said, ”They exchanged fire with the shooters. So your principle of having armed guards was true in Columbine, was it not?“

Oooh, snap!


Next, LaPierre repeats his ”we have armed guards at office buildings“ canard:

Our police do this every day. They protect the president, The Secret Service does. They protect The Capitol. They protect office buildings. Most of the media, I know you don’t have armed guards here, but most of the media, when I go around this country, they’re protected by armed guards. Why can’t we protect our most precious resource?

Again, I dealt with that in this post. In short, the guards LaPierre mentions are not as commonplace as he suggests, and more to the point, they are not there to prevent massacres, nor could they. As for the Secret Service, to get to the level of protection of the president for our schools, the logistics and costs would make such a thing inconceivable.

What does Gregory do? He concedes the point. Way to get tough there, idiot.

Gregory then tries to get LaPierre to concede that at least is some cases, armed guards may not work, to which LaPierre answers, ”Nothing’s perfect, David.“ To which Gregory responds, ”Right.“

Cutting-edge journalism, let me tell you.

Gregory then asks about costs; LaPierre either answers that we should divert money from foreign aid, or else that we find similar funds. Which his Republican buddies would probably then block because it’s not ”paid for.“

Gregory, apparently either following a script or else under the impression that LaPierre is working under some system of logic, points out that LaPierre’s speech included the idea that if something could save lives, we should try it. To which LaPierre replies:

I tell you, my standard is this. You can’t legislate morality. Legislation works on the sane. Legislation works on the law abiding. … There are monsters out there every day, and we need to do something to stop them.

Essentially: gun control doesn’t work. Gregory’s considered reply:

Let’s stipulate that you’re right. Let’s say armed guards might work.

Wow. Real effective way to match that argument. Gregory’s stipulation was a segue to return the question of whether LaPierre would even consider the most obvious of gun control measures, mentioning the 30-round clip. The reply:

I don’t believe that’s going to make one difference. There are so many different ways to evade that, even if you had that. You had that for ten years when Dianne Feinstein passed that ban in ’94. It was on the books. Columbine occurred right in the middle of it. It didn’t make any difference.

Actually, it did. Columbine was a blip in a period where there were far fewer deadly attacks. From Princeton:

The data came from an extensive tabulation by Mark Follman at Mother Jones. Except for 1999, a year of five shootings (including the Columbine massacre), the assault ban period was peaceful by US standards….

Since the expiration of the gun ban in 2004, the number of shootings per year has doubled, and the number of victims per year has nearly tripled. Three of the bloodiest four years shown here occurred since the expiration.

Gregory, of course, was completely uninformed on this key point, and/or did not answer LaPierre’s lie.

LaPierre, when presented with a judge’s decision which pointed out the efficacy of banning large clips, answered:

It’s not going to work. It hasn’t worked. Dianne Feinstein had her ban, and Columbine occurred.

He uses the name ”Feinstein“ here and elsewhere, a total of five times, apparently the same way Republicans use the name ”Pelosi“: as a pejorative to baselessly express corrupt inefficiency. Which is not an argument. Nor is an exception a rule. It’s like saying, ”We outlaw cannibalism, but Jeffrey Dahmer ate people, so obviously the law does not work and we should repeal it.“ An argument Gregory did not even touch.

LaPierre then turned the conversation to mental illness, which is a red herring—everyone is talking about that as being part of the problem, and it does not make gun control irrelevant. Gregory tried to handle that by turning to background checks. LaPierre made it sound like he was for them, but only cited the National Instant Check System (NICS), an NRA-backed attempt to circumvent both waiting periods (which would have prevented Lanza at Newtown had his mother not been a gun nut) and more in-depth checks. NICS is ineffective as states often don’t enter data into it, and private sales and gun shows are easy loopholes to avoid the check at all.

Gregory actually made a few effective points:

But if you want to check and screen more thoroughly for the mentally ill, why not screen more thoroughly for everybody and eliminate the fact that 40% can buy a weapon without any background check? …

But you don’t deny that there are– that even the Instant Check System has huge holes, just like the mental health registry has huge holes.

And here is where we get to the heart of why it is useless to have anyone interview someone as unreasonable and extreme as LaPierre: they simply evade the questions, and, as in LaPierre’s case, are just too skilled at diverting the argument with a storm of BS:

You know what N.R.A. supports, David? N.R.A. supports what works, and we always have. We funded the (UNINTEL) Child Safety Program. We have accidents down to one tenth of what they used to be. We have supported prison building. We have supported programs like Project Exile where, every time you catch a criminal with a gun, a drug dealer with a gun, a violent felon with a gun, you prosecute him 100% of the time.

Which, of course, does not answer the question, and is full of disinformation and evasions, all of which would require far more time to point out the flaws in the new bullshit before getting back to the question LaPierre evaded in the first place.

I would go on, but looking through the interview, it’s mostly just more of the same and, quite frankly, it’s intensely depressing wading through such deep quagmires of festering pus.

My father had it right: just do not give people like LaPierre a national podium to speak from. He calls a press conference? Why report on it? If the nation’s premier handgun control center were to hold a press conference, would it get even a 100th of the attention? No. So ignore LaPierre. He wants to pick and choose which Sunday talk show to use as a bully pulpit on terms he dictates? Tell him to go to hell. Instead invite on the show reasonable and informed people from both sides of the issue to debate in a rational, structured, fact-based way. But we can’t do that. Instead, allow an extremist loon a national pedestal to spew his lies and then bring on two politicians to say nothing of substance.

It’s just the ”Liberal Media™“ hard at work again.

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  1. Tim Kane
    December 27th, 2012 at 15:08 | #1

    This is our politics, is it not? For the last 30 years?

    The weaker public policy position wins the public debate, perhaps because the fix is in, as it is in most media, but especially “Meet the Press”.

    But it doesn’t make any difference because they ultimately will lose the debate, because their short term policy victories will result in continued slayings. At some point, revulsion will over take them.

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