[Editor’s Note: Over the course of the last year, CL has run occasional columns from Florida Voices, an online compendium of news and opinion that was co-founded by former Tampa Tribune editorial page editor (and current Sun Sentinel editorial page editor) Rosemary Goudreau. Following the shootings at Sandy Hook and the stunningly tone-deaf response from the NRA, it occurred to me that the columnists at Florida Voices, which calls itself “the state opinion page,” might have something cogent to say on the subject. And boy, did they. Miami employment lawyer and former New York Times reporter Angelo Castillo, Jr. says it’s time to amend the Second Amendment; Mary Jo Melone, eloquent as always, addresses both the inadequacy and the power of words in the wake of Newtown; and young conservative activist Jesse Phillips says that “President Barak [sic] Obama” and his fellow liberals are “bumbling, ignorant prohibitionists” when it comes to guns. But the FV column that struck me the most was by Martin Dyckman, retired associate editor of the paper formerly known as the St. Petersburg Times. His essay is at once incendiary — “anarchist” is a loaded word — and enlightening. And here it is.]
Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids will we kill today?
We tend to think of anarchists in America as relics of the past, caricatured as bearded fanatics throwing bombs, worthy of no attention except at the hands of the law.
This is a grave misperception. Anarchism — defined as a fundamental hostility to government — is stronger in America now than ever before. It is something to be taken very seriously.
There’s a lot of it in the Tea Party and among the libertarians, especially wealthy ones like the Koch brothers, who spend heavily to get government off their backs.
Grover Norquist, the anti-tax lobbyist who has boasted that he wants to make the government small enough “to drown it in a bathtub,” is every bit an anarchist.
And so it is fitting that Norquist sits on the board of the National Rifle Association, whose anarchistic principles have contributed to infinitely more bloodshed than the Haymarket rioters ever intended or imagined.
Not so many years ago, the NRA was a moderate force, focused primarily on firearms training and safety, having been founded to ensure that the country would not again go to war, as it had in 1861, with many inductees not knowing the difference between a musket and a broomstick, literally unable to hit the broad side of a barn.
The NRA could be reasonable with respect to regulation of weapons, like machine guns, that have no place in hunting or self-defense.
But the moderate leadership was overthrown, likely with significant help from arms manufacturers and sellers — the merchants of death. There is no longer any reasoning with the NRA, not even after a succession of ghastly tragedies perpetrated with semi-automatic weapons that have no necessary purpose except for the police and the military. Stockton. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson. Aurora.
And now, despite the massacre of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school, the NRA is still obdurate against anything that might keep assault weapons out of the wrong hands. It opposes even something so moderate as a ban on 30-round magazines.
It admits to a need for nothing except more guns — specifically on the persons of police officers to be stationed in all 98,000 American schools.
At public expense. Cut from budgets elsewhere. No new taxes. That must have been Norquist’s contribution to the scheme.
Trouble is, there was an armed police officer at Columbine High School. The killers knew that, and evaded him. The next mass killers would either do the same or make the cops their first targets, just as ex-con William Spengler did near Webster, N.Y., on Christmas Eve in luring firefighters into an ambush — killing two and wounding two — where he lay in wait armed with a Bushmaster assault rifle just like the one that was used to massacre the children of Newtown.
The NRA’s avoidance of the underlying issues is simply insane. But beyond that, it’s also inconsistent, not to say hypocritical. All along, the NRA has argued that government can’t protect its citizens, who must be free to arm themselves. The truth is, it hasn’t wanted the government to protect the citizens, because that would interfere with its basic philosophy and its service to the merchants of death.
Now, however, the NRA says it wants the government to protect at least some of its citizens to a greater extent than before. But only on the NRA’s demonic terms.
A parable is told of a young man who killed his parents and then pleaded to the court for mercy because he was an orphan. It serves to explain the meaning of sheer, undiluted gall.
The NRA gall now transcends even that.
The difference is that it’s fact, not fiction.