The NRA's Response to Sandy Hook

The NRA came out with its solution to school shootings in the USA. Their answer: armed police in schools. There are other proposals out there. I’m not sure how serious they are, but they involve arming principals and teachers. Once again the solution to the US’s gun problem is: more guns! For some, the fact that there are 88.8 guns per 100 citizens in civilian hands in the US still indicates that we need looser guns laws. This should be shocking, but sadly its not. Looking from the outside in, there is a pattern to this sort of logic. For many Americans national tragedies initiate as type of soul searching that leads us to see things differently than we did before such awful events as Columbine or Newtown. For others, they don’t.

9/11 is an example. After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon many Americans (yours truly included) put down the remote control and picked up a book to try and understand what was going. I became interested in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, studied terrorism and Arabic, lived in Egypt and Turkey and eventually ended up here in Zagreb. During my search for understanding I came to the clear realization that US policy in the Middle East, particularly its support for Israel is a large piece of the Why-They-Hate-Us puzzle. I have a lot of friends who went on similar enlightening journeys and came to similar conclusions.

Sadly there seems to be another way to go and that is those who, after a national tragedy engage in no kind of introspection, no kind of soul searching and actually seem to dig in their heels, becoming more convinced that their path is the right one. Again, 9/11 serves as an example. After the attacks the solution of the Bush Administration and large segments of the populace (a la Toby Keith fans) was to launch two wars in the Middle East, support Israel even more unconditionally during the 2nd Intifada, engage in extraordinary rendition and a whole range of actions that never addressed what many saw as the source of the problem.

Returning to the issue of gun violence and you see a similar story. Right-wing responses to Columbine, Aurora Illinois, and Sandy Hook are that more guns would have saved the day and that we, Americans, do not have enough guns? What kind of impression will this leave on our kids when we tell them they have to go to school with armed guards everywhere? We, the richest country on the planet, have to have armed guards in our schools? There is something fundamentally wrong with your world-view when you see the solution to violence as more violence.

The problem with right-wing American “thinking” is more obvious when living in a country like Croatia. Croatia is poor, and recovering from a 4 long year civil war, but they don’t have a mentality that the answer to violence is always more violence. When I tell people here that in the US I own four guns they look at me like I have horns on my head. This is from a populace that had to flee shelling, areal bombardment, tanks, and marauding paramilitaries. Here, men and women actually depended on guns to defend their homes and families (see my forthcoming research), but they understand that that was a war. Now in peace time, the idea that people need guns seems absurd to most of the people I have talked with about this issue.

I really cannot excuse the NRA’s or gun advocates thinking on this matter. In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, just like that in Aurora, and at Columbine the idea that this disease can be cured through more violence is itself tragic. Sadly, it embodies the lamentable state of the US.