Michael Tabman

The NRA Argument: It’s You, Not Me

In Crime and Security on December 26, 2012 at 7:53 am

I watched the news conference, or more appropriately the pontification of National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.  Like many others, I was surprised by the ineffectiveness of his message.  This was especially surprising as the NRA has been highly effective in delivering its message and advancing its own agenda.

Some of what LaPierre said did rise to the level of reasonableness.  Placing police officers in schools may, at times, have a deterrent effect. And, it is certainly a much better idea than arming schoolteachers.  For a variety of reasons, I do not find this plan effective, nor do I find it practical, but it is not irrational and I discussed the concept with FOX4 News.  LaPierre then focused on violent video games and movies.  That was nothing new.  But, LaPierre’s failure to accept that gun control must be part of a comprehensive plan to thwart the mass killings that have plagued us was a blatant example of self-serving denialism.  As we have learned from political campaigns, when you must explain your explanation and “double down,” you have lost the argument; you are defending the indefensible.

“Guns don’t kill people” and “Don’t blame the gun” are specious axioms that fail to recognize an uncomfortable truth.  From Columbine to Red Lake to Aurora to Newtown – guns were used to commit mass murder. Yes, there were individuals who were responsible for their evil acts.  But they were able to kill so many people because of the weapons they possessed.  We can hold the killers responsible, but how many would still be alive if these killers never were able to get their hands on the tools of their murderous tirade.  If we can control access to drugs, we can control access to highly efficient killing machines.

During my years in the FBI and since my retirement, we have read of several prosecutions of wanna-be terrorists who attempted to use weapons of mass destruction against airports and high-rise buildings.  They were not successful because they were lured into an undercover operation before they were able to do us harm.  How were they caught?  Despite how it sounds in the media, these failed terrorists were not discovered through an extensive network of strategically placed informants.  Because they found it difficult to obtain the necessary tools and equipment, they had to “shop around.”  That shopping created the opening necessary to introduce undercover agents.  The same theory applies to high-powered weapons.  The more difficult they are to obtain, the greater the chance of intervention, whether through mental health services or law enforcement.  Either way, lives are saved.

This is not a Second Amendment argument.  Restricting access to certain weapons and ammunition does not violate the concept: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  No right is absolute.

  1. In you “assault” weapon ban, you would ban any weapon with a high capacity magazine. The fallacy of this is that a gunman, if the limit is 10, for example, will simply bring more clips. Also note that there are other semi automatic rifles that are higher powered than the .223 of the AR-15.
    For example, both the Browning BAR and Remington 750 (Which are both semi automatic) that can be had with much larger calibers.
    For example, the shooter who lured the 4 fireman and shot at them was, ask you know, a felon. Already prohibited from having said weapon.
    Also, in your utopia – after you ban AR-15, What would you do with the 200 million firearms that already exists?
    Would you have them registered so that some newspaper like the one in New York could publish that list.
    Or would you ban them like Great Britain and Australia, which prohibit guns in general, have seen rising murder rates since the ban was enacted.
    However, you are on you soapbox and I know that you believe you are right.. and nothing can change that.

  2. Hey Michael … this is THE MOST SANE ARTICLE I’ve read about gun control from a person who is more than qualified to comment on weapons of rapid destruction. Personally I’d like to see clips limited to 5 – even my semi-automatic shotgun has a plug limiting it to 3 shells for quail hunting and I don’t feel like that’s a violation of my 2nd Amendment rights. If you can’t defend yourself with 5 bullets, then maybe you should spend more time practicing at the firing range … or better yet, call the police.


    • LeRoy: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your perspective, as a gun owner/hunter who seeks a fair balance. If we can keep the conversation going, maybe we can reach a resolution. Have a great new year, Michael

  3. Agree and agree. No right is absolute. It’s not about taking guns away from those who own them it’s about making sure the wrong people don’t get them and facilitate investigations. And some weapons aren’t meant for civilians et all. If I may add this to my argument: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2013/01/04/paul-begala-me-and-a-gun.html
    This discussion is reasonable and a compromise can be achieved on both sides… except maybe NRA leadership, those guys only serve the military industry.

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