NRA chief Wayne LaPierre issued a strange warning to Americans in a Daily Caller op-ed Wednesday, suggesting that guns will protect us against everything from terrorism to natural disasters. It's not the first time he has used fact-free scare tactics to encourage people to join the NRA and arm themselves.
Here are some problems that can be solved by gun culture, according to the NRA:
1. School violence — In the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, LaPierre said that putting more guns in schools is the "one thing" that could prevent future tragedies.
"If it's crazy to call for armed officers in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," he said on "Meet the Press." "I think the American people think it's crazy not to do it. It's the one thing that would keep people safe."
Armed security at Columbine High School failed to stop the deadliest mass shooting at an American high school in 1999, when two students killed 15 people and wounded 23 more.
2. Latin American drug gangs — In his Daily Caller piece, LaPierre writes:
Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States. Phoenix is already one of the kidnapping capitals of the world, and though the states on the U.S./Mexico border may be the first places in the nation to suffer from cartel violence, by no means are they the last. The president flagrantly defies the 2006 federal law ordering the construction of a secure border fence along the entire Mexican border. So the border today remains porous not only to people seeking jobs in the U.S., but to criminals whose jobs are murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping.
LaPierre doesn't site his sources, maybe because Phoenix is not the kidnapping capital of the world and the U.S. does not rely upon armed civilans to secure the border.
3. Hurricane looters — LaPierre went on to reimagine the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in his op-ed:
After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.
Sandy looters pillaged a pharmacy in Coney Island but most looting cases were thrown out and crime in New York City slowed during the storm. There were no murders for five days after it hit. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough declared this claim and the drug cartel warning "so laced with racial overtones" that Republicans should condemn it.
4. Violence against women — Guns not only protect against the border rapists LaPierre warned about in his op-ed, but they can serve as an equalizer for women in other violent situations, said Gayle Trotter of the Independent Women's Forum, a neoconservative group originally formed to defend Clarence Thomas against sexual harassment allegations.
“Guns make women safer,” Trotter said at a Senate hearing in January. “Using a firearm with a magazine holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, a woman would have a fighting chance even against multiple attackers.”
LaPierre has been making this argument for almost 20 years. In a 1995 interview with Spy (via the Atlantic), he said:
"At the scene of every crime, there's only going to be two people: the criminal and the victim," LaPierre said, explaining the NRA only wants to make sure the victim can defend herself. "And that's why more American women every day are joining the NRA, is that they're fearful of the collapse of the criminal justice system, and they want to exercise their right to personal protection."
Guns escalate violence against women far more often than they stop it. As Slate's Amanda Marcotte points out, a gun isn't usually within the victim's reach during a domestic dispute and women are about 83 times more likely to be shot to death by an intimate partner than they are to kill one with a gun in self-defense.
5. "Wand-rape" of female fliers — "Armed Americans have an obvious role in stopping terrorists in their tracks," and racial profiling in airports could replace invasive TSA screenings, according to LaPierre.
“You see red-faced, teary-eyed, 15-year-old girls enduring security wands orbiting their breasts while electronic squeals detect the metal in their underwire bras,” he said in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks. “You see women cringe as security men let their wands linger between their legs... I guess it's okay to wand-rape someone's daughter in public, but no profiling."
He went on to recommend targeting potential terrorists who fall into "fairly narrow categories of gender, age, nationality and religion." The problem with profiling, other than it being racist and humiliating, is that it makes us less safe by giving terrorists obvious "blind spots" to exploit.