Wayne LaPierre, chief executive officer of the National Rifle Association, must think that most Americans are as monomaniacal as he is. At his much-awaited press conference today, he cited every reason but guns for the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. His vision of America is a country awash in military-style assault weapons.
The thought of stationing armed guards at every school is repugnant. It's also impractical. The same goes for building a database of the violently mentally ill. Even if we spent the billions of dollars necessary to make these ideas reality, we wouldn't be any safer. To understand why, all we have to do is subject these ideas to the same test LaPierre uses when asked about stricter gun-control laws: Would they have stopped the massacre in Newtown?
Let's take the database first. Leave aside the notion that conservatives hate the federal government keeping information on people. Collecting it would be a nightmare, requiring that other laws protecting medical privacy be pushed aside.
A federal database wouldn't have stopped Adam Lanza, either, because he wouldn't have made it into LaPierre's database. He wouldn't have been in anyone's files. He apparently was a loner who'd given no sign that he would turn into a monster. There's no evidence that he so much as shot a BB gun at a neighborhood mailbox. He was an example of the classic "keeps to himself" profile -- until he wasn't.
As for schools, even if we put armed guards in every one of the 100,000 or so public elementary and secondary schools in the U.S., would they have been able to stop Lanza? He had hundreds of rounds of ammunition when he arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary. What kind of escalation in firepower would you need to supply to the unemployed security guards and laid-off police officers LaPierre wants to hire to defend against that?
What a world LaPierre wants us to live in -- all because he believes the Founders envisioned citizens armed with assault weapons defending themselves against a corrupt government. Sadly, I've yet to hear a Republican in the House disagree with him.
(Margaret Carlson is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow her on Twitter.)
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