After NRA vice-president and CEO Wayne LaPierre talked about armed guards at every school being the solution and blaming video games, the group has been receiving more negative publicity. It does bring up talks about increased security at schools.
As of yesterday, December 21, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has put itself in a very difficult situation. In terms of public relations, the NRA has made itself a sociopolitical pariah after its press conference to address the shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Until almost midweek, since Friday, the NRA was very silent. A country music concert called the “Tweet 'n Greet” by NRA Country, scheduled for Friday, got postponed and rescheduled for a later date. Since then, for a few days, the NRA was silent.
When the NRA broke its silence., it made a press release saying that it was saddened by what happened and would vow to give “meaningful contributions” to help prevent future tragedies. At the NRA press conference, vice-president and CEO Wayne LaPierre gave this comment about how “good guys with a gun can stop bad guys.” He also called upon armed guards at all schools in the United States. On top of that, LaPierre blamed video games, mental health issues, and movies for cultivating a culture that led to such acts of gun violence.
An article in Wired went a bit in-depth about what LaPierre was saying about video games. LaPierre called video games as part of the problem with violence. He blamed the video games and entertainment industries of violating the standards of civilized society and bringing criminal cruelty into the households. The Wired article blasts LaPierre's blame towards video games. It points out that if video games were the cause, then the Netherlands and South Korea would have the highest rates of gun violence in the world as they play the most violent video games.
It uses information from an interview with Chris Furguson who is the department chair of Psychology and Communication at Texas A & M International. In regards to the Netherlands and South Korea, the rates of gun violence are rather low.
This is an example of the backlash LaPierre received for blaming video games for what happened in Newtown. When the link was made equating people diagnosed with mental illnesses and psychological disorders to people being genuine monsters, LaPierre received more backlash. In a CNN Special, a mother writes about placing blame on various psychological disorders. Sarah Darer Littman, who writes the piece, talked about the consequences about misreporting on symptoms such as autism, Asperger's, etc. People such as a Georgetown freshman, writing a piece for the Georgetown Voice, have autism and are speaking out against the condition being blamed for the shooting perpetrated by Adam Lanza.
For the most part, the NRA's response at the press conference was disastrous at best. In a Forbes article, David Kroll writes about his late-father who served in the United States Marine Corps. Kroll starts off the article by talking about a dream he had of his father scraping off an NRA sticker. When it came to guns, Kroll writes how father had a love of rifles and shotguns; but, the love didn't go towards the automatic or semi-automatic weapons. In that respect, Kroll said that his uncles never believed in having firearms that could fire more than one shot at a time. With that respect, Kroll dreamed of his father leaving the NRA for the response LaPierre had given.
Humorously, Kroll said that LaPierre earned a grade of “D” for how he responded.
In another Forbes article, Rob Waters dissects LaPierre's response. In regards to LaPierre talk about armed guards, Waters brought up the Columbine High School shooting. The article points out that the armed guards at Columbine High School were outmatched by the two teenage perpetrators who carried assault weapons. Waters writes what LaPierre is proposing isn't going to protect the majority who have been victimized by guns and violence.
Steven Chapman, who writes in a blog for the Chicago Tribune, called the response the latest debacle coming from the NRA. He called LaPierre an “irresponsible hysteric.” Like Waters, Chapman points out flaws in the notion of putting armed guards at schools across the US. In this respect, Chapman said that the idea of gathering all these trained volunteers lacks plausibility. When it came to the hiring of more law enforcement officers, Chapman said that the cops would be better placed elsewhere if that was the case. Despite what happened at Sandy Hook, Waters said that schools are generally safe places.
In an article on the SF Gate, State Senator Leland Yee D-San Francisco called the idea of armed guards at every school “pathetic and unacceptable.”
US Representative George Miller (D-CA) gave a rhetorical question as his response. While LaPierre was focused on the schools, Miller asked about other places such as malls, churches, movie theaters, and so forth making references to the shootings in Aurora, Oregon, and so forth. He said that those locations were still vulnerable.
Educators and police officials in New York City criticized LaPierre's proposal. NYC's branch of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) talked about that gun violence kills city students outside of the schools and not inside them. The city branch's president, Michael Mulgrew, rhetorically asked how the NRA would have something to address that issue.
The president of the firm called National School Safety and Security Services asks how would LaPierre's proposal be funded.
School officials across the country are giving skepticism and criticism towards LaPierre. Tom Brennan, a superintendent in New Hampshire, said that this is time to think of other options and added that educators aren't really keen in having armed guards in the classroom.
The New Jersey Education Association blasted LaPierre's proposal. It also criticized the plan for being expensive. Things pointed out were the salaries, benefits, and equipment costs.
Even the newspapers are having their way with LaPierre. The New York Post and the New York Daily News both called LaPierre “crazy.” An article on the Hartford Courage had a humorous cartoon drawing of the NRA logo without the eagle. The eagle can be seen to the left flying away saying “I QUIT!”
With all of that summed up, the NRA's taking even more of a sociopolitical beating. However, it doesn't mean that the NRA is going to be out of the picture. In fact, it looks far from it. A Reuters article talks about the divide between Americans when it comes to guns. In reports that NRA leaders were helping LaPierre come up with a position.
So far, many Republicans have seemingly been quiet in regards to the NRA response. An article on NPR interviewed the chair of sociology at the Albion College in Michigan. According to Scott Melzer, the department chair, it would be suicidal for any member of the GOP to vote for gun control. Melzer said that leaves an opening for strong primary challengers. The same NPR article talks about having to deal with other pro-gun organizations which makes it harder for gun control legislation.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, said he doesn't like the idea of LaPierre's proposal.
David Paul, the president of Fiscal Strategies Group, writes a piece in the Huffington Post talking about both LaPierre and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. Paul writes that their absolutist politics will end up destroying the Republican Party.
However, LaPierre's proposal is getting some support. Apparently, the head of Georgia's public school system is open to the NRA's proposal. But, he believes the state would have to help the local districts in regards to finances. While there are many parents rejecting the NRA proposal, there are parents that are quick to embrace the proposal as well. The head of Camden's school district was open to the idea of armed police officers at every school saying that it would be of great help. With this said, LaPierre's proposal is not completely being criticized. There are still plenty of people open to LaPierre's idea of armed guards and so forth.
At the press conference, LaPierre said that the NRA is working on the “blueprint” of the plan. Since LaPierre didn't take questions on Friday, he won't be able to dodge questions on Sunday as he is one of the guests on NBC's “Meet the Press.” At the same time, NRA President David Keene will be a guest on CBS' “Face the Nation.”