Last night, in an inappropriately rally-like atmosphere, President Obama called for an end to the blame game re: the Safeway Massacre. While I reckon the Commander-in-Chief should have made his speech with quiet dignity from the Oval Office, full marks for not exploiting the tragedy to shill for gun control. Oh, and recommending rhetorical civility. Of which there’d been precious little . . .
In the run-up to President Obama’s memorial for Jared Lee Loughner’s victims, the New York Times let gun rights advocates have it with both barrels. Once it was clear Loughner was not Sara Palin’s bitch, they quickly settled on the “real” cause of this horrific crime: the National Rifle Association (NRA).
No surprise there. Yesterday, our (our?) Dan Baum highlighted a particularly egregious NYT editorial. Dan failed to mention its strident anti-NRA demagoguery. Here’s the concluding paragraph . . .
At least two members of Congress say they will start to carry weapons to district meetings, the worst possible response. If lawmakers want to enhance their safety, and that of their constituents, they should recognize that the true public menace is the well-dressed gun lobbyist hanging out just outside their chamber door.
It’s also true that city slickers sometimes exaggerate the risk of any one gun. The authors of Freakonomics noted that a home with a swimming pool is considerably more dangerous for small children than a home with a gun. They said that 1 child drowns annually for every 11,000 residential pools, but 1 child is shot dead for every 1 million-plus guns.
All that said, guns are far more deadly in America, not least because there are so many of them. There are about 85 guns per 100 people in the United States, and we are particularly awash in handguns.
(The only country I’ve seen that is more armed than America is Yemen. Near the town of Sadah, I dropped by a gun market where I was offered grenade launchers, machine guns, antitank mines, and even an anti-aircraft weapon. Yep, an N.R.A. dream! No pesky regulators. Just terrorism and a minor civil war.)
On the same day, Times’ columnist Gail Collins dropped this little comparison:
A moderate gun control bill, restricting large ammunition clips like the one used in Tucson, is probably going nowhere because who wants to run afoul of the Darth Vader, which is the NRA, over an ammunition clip?
Today’s Times is, surprise, all about peace, love and unity. But it won’t be long before they resume their attack on one of their favorite whipping boys: the NRA. Days? Weeks? Later today? We shall see. Meanwhile, the Times doesn’t seem to understand that the NRA is no longer in the lead on the firearms firefighting front.
Oh sure, the NRA patrols the halls of congress with enough political savvy to keep even the most alpha of Blue Dog Democrats in fear of the kennel. [Caution: metaphor switch.] But like any 800-pound gorilla, the NRA’s not the most agile simian in the room. That honor belongs to the grass roots internet activists and new, more agile gun rights groups.
The Times is wrong to vilify the NRA for blocking gun control. The NRA should be celebrated for blocking gun control! Failing that, let’s hope the paper continues to see gun control as an old school battle between right-thinking people and the NRA. ‘Cause the less dyed-in-the-wool [final metaphor I swear] anti-gun antagonists like the Times know the truth about guns, the more powerful it becomes. Weird, eh?