My boss at work is big into self improvement conferences. He goes to one every year or so and comes out energized, and often with a new perspective. While the energy may wane, the perspective usually stays, and that can be a very good thing.
One year, he came back from a conference, and said he had heard something that completely changed his perspective on our business and how we should approach our customers. He said that the guy leading the conference had told a simple story.
“Home improvement stores sell on average 35 million 2 inch nails every year. They sell them to customers all over the nation, and all of those customers have one single thing in common.
“Not one of them wanted to buy a nail.”
My boss said that crowd sat there quietly for a moment, slightly confused and wondering what the speaker would say next.
“Not one of them wanted a nail, yet they bought 35 million of them. Why? Why would they do that?
“Because what they wanted was to hang a picture. The nail was just the tool they needed to do the job.”
Wayne LaPierre is firmly focused on hanging the picture. When he addressed the press on Friday, he said something that nobody else has said to date:
While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectably silent. Now, we must speak for the safety of our nation’s children. Because for all the noise and anger directed at us over the past week, no one, nobody has addressed the most important, pressing and immediate question we face: How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?
The only way to answer that question is to face the truth. Politicians pass laws for gun free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And, in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.
How have our nation’s priorities gotten so far out of order? Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, court houses, even sports stadiums are all protected by armed security. We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers. Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it, and exploit it.
You may agree with what he said, or you may disagree, but what makes him stand out is that he has correctly identified the problem. The problem is not that I can own an AR-15; the problem is that we have, through action and inaction, allowed our schools to become vulnerable to lawless or insane people. The problem is that we have not acted in a concerted way to protect our most valuable resource. The problem is that our kid are now seen as easy targets.
So, what can we do about it? LaPierre went on.
As parents we do everything we can to keep our children safe. It’s now time for us to assume responsibility for our schools. The only way — the only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection.
The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away or from a minute away?
Anticipating the fluttering hearts of the automatic nay-sayers, LaPierre made a case for having armed guards in place.
But since when did “gun” automatically become a bad word? A gun in the hands of a Secret Service agent protecting our president isn’t a bad word. A gun in the hands of a soldier protecting the United States of America isn’t a bad word. And when you hear your glass breaking at three a.m. and you call 9/11, you won’t be able to pray hard enough for a gun in the hands of a good guy to get there fast enough to protect you.
So, why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect the president of our country or our police, but bad when it’s used to protect our children in our schools? They’re our kids. They’re our responsibility. And it’s not just our duty to protect them, it’s our right to protect them.
Again, like it or not, LaPierre has developed a solution that addresses the real problem. It’s not the guns in the hands of the good guys that is the problem; it’s that the bad guys know there are no armed good guys in the gun free zones. The idea isn’t all that radical, and it does have some things going for it. It can be implemented before school is back in session. It doesn’t require new regulations or laws and it doesn’t require us to break our Constitution or to pass controversial legislation. And it can be done at the local level rather than requiring a federal response.
President Obama, on the other hand, has chosen to focus on the nails. He has called for a national conversation about guns. What he didn’t say is that we just had one of those and it went all the way to the Supreme Court. In DC vs. Heller, the Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia’s draconian gun laws and ruled that the 2nd Amendment recognized an individual right to keep and bear arms and that legislation banning the possession of guns was unconstitutional.
So why do we need another conversation? Apparently because Obama didn’t like the way the first one ended, particularly since the Heller decision paved the way for Illinois’ concealed carry ban to be overturned just a few days ago.
Why do we need it now? Because when the emotional reaction subsides, then facts and reason prevail, and he already lost that argument.
But let’s have the conversation; but first, let’s set a couple of ground rules.
- No name calling. I’m not some heartless monster who wants children to die and you aren’t some tyrant wannabe who wants to rule the world. So let’s not go there.
- What are the facts? For get opinions and emotions. If you don’t have facts, your argument fails immediately.
- If you have a plan, you must be able to demonstrate that it would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hill. If it wouldn’t have stopped it, then you must demonstrate the the amount by which it infringes on gun owner’s rights is justified by an increase in public safety. If you can’t answer either of those criteria, your plan fails.
Let’s kick things off with a few facts.
First, gun control laws have virtually no detectable effect on violent crime rates.
Chicago and Washington DC have two of the highest gun violence rates in the United States. They also have some of the toughest gun laws in the United States. I pointed out in an earlier article that an increase in gun ownership in the US has not led to an increase in gun violence. In the same article, I pointed out that relaxing gun laws in Florida did not lead to an increase in gun violence, as predicted by all the opposition. Here in Tennessee, when we passed a bill allowing HCP holders to carry their weapons into a restaurant, even if the restaurant served alcohol, the predicted ‘blood in the streets’ did not flow. Nationally, when the assault weapons ban was enacted, according to the NIJ, the Justice Department’s research arm, it had “no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.” When it expired, it did not cause a surge in gun violence as expected by gun control advocates.
The assault weapon ban had no effect, coming or going.
All of these facts lead to one, inescapable conclusion.
Maybe, just maybe, instead of trying to hang our picture on another nail, one that let the picture slip off the wall in the first place, we ought to be looking for a hook.