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Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: NRA offers freedom to live in fear

January 6, 2013

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“Everybody’s got a pistol. This must really please the NRA” — from “Gun” by Gil Scott-Heron

So maybe the NRA is about to get its wish.

Here we are, a little over three weeks after the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., a little over two weeks after the National Rifle Association said there should henceforth be armed guards at every school, and at least one school system, Marlboro Township in New Jersey, is taking its advice. Under a pilot program in partnership with local police, students who returned to school last week found their campuses patrolled by armed officers.

But here’s the thing. If this is truly a good idea — “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre in a news conference — then why stop there? After all, it is not just our schools that are being shot up. So let us follow this advice to its logical end.

Consider:

Four firefighters in upstate New York were shot, two of them killed, on Christmas Eve when they responded to a call and were ambushed by a man with a semiautomatic rifle. So we should have armed guards on all our fire trucks.

Two customers were killed two days before Christmas when armed men opened fire with semiautomatic handguns inside a grocery store in Delray Beach, Fla. So we should have armed guards at all our grocery stores.

Two people were killed and one injured on Dec. 11 by a gunman who started shooting at a shopping mall near Portland, Ore. So we should have armed guards at all our shopping malls.

Two people were killed and two others injured Nov. 6 when an employee started shooting inside a chicken processing plant in Fresno, Calif. So we should have armed guards at all our chicken processing plants.

One man was killed and five others wounded in a shooting at a New Year’s Eve party in a private residence in Lakewood, Calif. So we should have armed guards at all our private residences.

One man was killed, a pregnant woman and her unborn child wounded, in a Dec. 9 drive-by shooting on a street corner in Miami. So we should have armed guards on every street corner.

That list, by the way, represents only a random sampling of recent shootings, most so run of the mill, so plain vanilla ordinary, they didn’t even make news outside their local areas. Which should give you an idea how common gunfire in this country is. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, nearly 98,000 of us are shot each year, a figure that includes law enforcement activity. That’s 268 a day, 11 every hour.

By the reasoning of the NRA, you do not address that sad state of affairs by crafting laws that strive to balance the rights of responsible gun owners with the need to block the irresponsible, the dangerous, the criminal minded, the unhinged, from access to these WMDs. No, by the NRA’s reasoning, the solution to too many guns is more guns still.

The organization frames this as a defense of freedom. To which the best rejoinder is provided by Gil Scott-Heron in the song quoted above: “Freedom to be afraid is all you won.”

It is a trenchant observation. Just the other day, two seventh graders in Tillamook, Ore. found a handgun, with a round in the chamber and the safety off, on the floor in a movie theater. It had apparently slipped out of the holster of one Gary Warren Quackenbush, 61, who said he felt the need for protection as he watched “The Hobbit.”

Quackenbush reportedly feared someone might shoot up the place — as happened in Aurora, Colo., last July during a Batman movie. So add movie theaters to the list of places we should have armed guards. We are a people shot through with fear, a nation under the gun.

And one wonders how much more of this “freedom” we can take.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CST each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.

Comments

beatrice 1 year, 3 months ago

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beatrice 1 year, 3 months ago

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 3 months ago

I find it comical that all the hardcore gun freaks have to fall back on their total misinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment and their ignorance (willful?) of the history behind it to justify their position in favor of a totally unchecked proliferation of guns and weaponry of all kinds.

The founding fathers were certainly some pretty smart guys, but they were by and large aristocrats looking to maintain or improve their position in the world. They saw getting rid of the King and his taxes as the best way to do that. But they didn't have an army, and they were very afraid of what the hoi polloi might do after the King and his army were out of the picture-- the slaveholders in the south in particular were quite concerned about slave revolts. They didn't have the money to have a standing army, and the self-financing militias envisaged in the 2nd Amendment were the best they could do.

So, if you're a gun freak, please just make the best argument you can for why we should spend half our collective income on guns and ammo. But you can't do that with the intellectually fraudulent assertion that that's what the founding fathers wanted us to do.

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disappointed_regressive 1 year, 3 months ago

It's OK bea and boz, you have NARAL, NOW, NAMBLA and KlanParenthood. Can't we have our NRA? Furthermore, if by some hypothetical, we woke up tomorrow and NRA had somehow aligned with the left, you guys would be cheerleading them like the afore mentioned stellar organizations are cheerleaded.

Why do you guys hate other people's freedoms so much?

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Armstrong 1 year, 3 months ago

Len, you have done another stellar job of rousting the crazies for the cause of the week.

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beatrice 1 year, 3 months ago

To the point of the article (which everyone is missing):

Pitts is correct. The NRA's logic will mean we need to have armed guards simply EVERYWHERE, since shootings happen everywhere. Gee, why would a lobbyist firm for gun manufacturers want that?

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beatrice 1 year, 3 months ago

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uncleandyt 1 year, 3 months ago

On the questions of guns, can we please just talk about hammers? Now where were we?, oh yes, Gravity ! Let's ban gravity. This previous sentence could perhaps be offered as solid proof that there is a proposal out in the world to keep us from not floating. Change the question. Change the subject. My beef is not chicken. The U.S. has too many guns. And just like Coke and Pepsi, the weapons makers are expanding their markets. More guns absolutely leads to more shooting. Each shooter has a first time for shooting, so you can save your law-abiding-citizen arguments. What are we talking about?, guns?...guns?.....We're talking about guns !

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Kathy Getto 1 year, 3 months ago

Not to be construed as either pro or con, I love Gil Scott Heron. B-movie being a favorite.

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2FsLtRHN7fsgY&h=nAQEa5oRI&s=1

An excerpt:

"As Wall Street goes, so goes the nation. And here's a look at the closing numbers – racism's up, human rights are down, peace is shaky, war items are hot - the House claims all ties. Jobs are down, money is scarce – and common sense is at an all-time low with heavy trading. Movies were looking better than ever and now no one is looking because, we're starring in a "B" movie. And we would rather have John Wayne...we would rather have John Wayne. "

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beatrice 1 year, 3 months ago

What about the remarkable list of lies by the NRA on Obama's agenda to do things such as "ban use of firearms for home protection," or "close down 90 percent of the gun shops in America."? Those are blatant lies.

Why support any lobbyist group that blatantly lies to you?

http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/nra_targets_obama.html

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Laus_Deo 1 year, 3 months ago

If what the Founders say about firearms is incorrect, what makes what Liberals say about firearms correct?

Firearms are not going to vanish from the face of the earth. Why can people in government have them and I can't? Why does Dobama and Jarrett get them but I can't? If I do not have a firearm why do they need one? Why?

The D is silent.

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Liberty275 1 year, 3 months ago

"Opinion: NRA offers freedom to live in fear"

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

From a source, Google it if you have to.

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lunacydetector 1 year, 3 months ago

question: did the Connecticut shooter use handguns or a bushmaster? there were conflicting reports right after the shooting...the first claim - they found a bushmaster and ammo in the trunk of his car and used handguns to kill the children. it wasn't until later the story changed. so what is the truth?

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toe 1 year, 3 months ago

The government will succeed in moving weapons underground and out of reach of regulation.

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Gotland 1 year, 3 months ago

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RoeDapple 1 year, 3 months ago

Just to save you the trouble of a Freedom of Information Request, I own 28 hammers. Some are antiques, a few claw and ball peen, a finish hammer, rubber and wooden mallets, a dead hammer (oh, that sounds scary!) and several pneumatic (semi-auto) nail guns. None are registered. Unlike my firearms, I have caused bodily harm with my hammers. Damn near ruined my thumb and pointy finger roofing the house in '89.

Even though hammers cause more deaths than rifles my neighbors have not indicated they fear me going on any sort of rampage with one. Probably because they have hammers of their own . . .

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disappointed_regressive 1 year, 3 months ago

Ban alchohol and save 75,000 lives per year. Ban automobiles and save 40,000 lives per year

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msezdsit 1 year, 3 months ago

Consider:

Four firefighters in upstate New York were shot, two of them killed,..........................................................................One man was killed, a pregnant woman and her unborn child wounded, in a Dec. 9 drive-by shooting on a street corner in Miami. So we should have armed guards on every street corner.

The NRA's answer to your questions is not yes but hell yes. The more gun violence there is the more guns we need. brilliant.

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Gandalf 1 year, 3 months ago

Leonard, on this subject, you are as bad as cal or will! Should we ban penis’ because they are used for rape? Doctors cause more accidental deaths than cars and guns combined, should we ban them?

From http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_03.pdf

31,347 deaths by guns 18,735 of which was suicide. 25,562 deaths by falls

Ban gravit!y!

The NRA offers freedom, some people choose to live in fear.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 3 months ago

The NRA is primarily a trade organization representing weapons manufacturers. Everything else is just window dressing (and fearmongering.)

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Armstrong 1 year, 3 months ago

As Len has failed to provide a solution to the problem we are basically left with 2 options.

1) Be the victim

2) Fight back

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Laus_Deo 1 year, 3 months ago

Heck. You are more likely to die of medical malpractice.

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RoeDapple 1 year, 3 months ago

You are more likely to be killed by a hammer than a rifle. (latest FBI stats)

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disappointed_regressive 1 year, 3 months ago

Heck, an old white male is killed by a young black male with a flower pot. Guess this young lad couldn't get his hands on a gun. The media seemed to conveniently under report this. BTW, the cops said they could not respond on the scene quick enough due to the swelling OWS nutcase riots at Berkeley.

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grammaddy 1 year, 3 months ago

Glad to see Leonard back here. It's been a while.

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disappointed_regressive 1 year, 3 months ago

Consider:

Chicago inner-city shooting deaths and non-lethal shootings. Forty shootings on Memorial Day weekend alone in 2012.

Pitts does what journalists like him do best: cherry pick to support their agenda.

Since 2008, 80 percent of the 530 young people under the age of 21 felled by gun violence lived in the city's South, Southwest and West sides, which are heavily populated with African-Americans and Latinos. Ironically, only one-third of the city's population lives in these areas. Englewood, an area in the city's South Side, stood out the most. Their murder rate is five times that of the rest of the city.

http://www.bet.com/news/health/2012/02/01/chicago-has-highest-murder-rate-in-the-u-s.html

I must ask, who really clings bitterly to their guns?

Seems Pitts wants to turn a blind eye to inner city gun violence and make it a problem created by old white males.

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Paul R Getto 1 year, 3 months ago

Americans worship many things, money and guns being just a couple.

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Laus_Deo 1 year, 3 months ago

Mr. Pitts gives pertinent reasons why some people, cultures, should not have guns. I wonder if he knows the history of the NRA? http://www.nrahq.org/history.asp Or, if he is able to understand this organization was developed by military men Church and Wingate?

I can only venture to speculate why Pitts would not, can not, or refuses to understand the history of the NRA. But, he should at minimal, have the diverse decency, to try an use critical thinking to understand firearms, which apparently he is not inherently adept at, before communicating his beliefs to the public.

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