Wag the dog: A deliberate effort to draw attention (the dog) away from a problem by focusing on a small part (the tail) and allowing that to control the conversation (the tail wags the dog); a distraction.
Today will be the 47th day since the killings at Sandy Hook, the 194th day since the Aurora theater shootings…and exactly 5,000 days since Columbine and the US Senate has decided to hold hearings on “What should America do about gun violence?”
Speaking are Captain Mark Kelly, USN (Ret.), Constitutional Law Professor David Kopel of Denver University, Baltimore Chief of Police James Johnson, Gayle Trotter from the Independent Women’s Forum and Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA.
He continued by yet again presenting a solution that was wrapped as a marketing pitch that the NRA was most qualified to train the several hundred thousand guards to provide an “immediate blanket of security around our children” – the NRA School Shield Program. He also promoted the NRA programs to train Americans how to safely use guns. To summarize the pitch…use our resources and give us money.
“The NRA has over 80,000 certified instructors who teach our military personnel, law enforcement officers and hundreds of thousands of other American men and women how to safely use firearms.”
“It’s time to throw an immediate blanket of security around our children. About a third of our schools have armed security already – because it works.”
Except when it doesn’t work in places like Columbine or Virginia Tech or Red Lake where armed, trained guards were on staff and on the facility. Or Westside Middle School where the shooters, aged 11 and 13 pulled the fire alarm which dumped the entire student body outside of the school where they shot and killed five and wounded 10 with guns they got from their parents.
After marketing the NRA’s pet projects and “more guns” only solutions Mr. LaPierre turned his focus on gun laws, both current and proposed. His opinion, look to enforcing current laws before bringing new ones on-line, a weak solution that doesn’t take into account that both enforcing existing regulations, on the state and federal level, plus implementing new regulations to cover the gaps would be a much more sound, rational proposal.
“In addition, we need to enforce the thousands of gun laws that are currently on the books. Prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms works…Proposing more gun control laws – while failing to enforce the thousands we already have – is not a serious solution to reducing crime.”
Mr. LaPierre then discussed the National Instant Criminal Background Check System [NICS] and in one thought supported it by requesting that mental health records should be included in a more robust system and then appeared to completely dismiss the NICS system, enhanced by a more comprehensive system that incorporates private sales and gun show sales, closing loopholes by saying they won’t work “because criminals will never submit to them.”
“I think we can also agree that our mental health system is broken. We need to look at the full range of mental health issues, from early detection and treatment, to civil commitment laws, to privacy laws that needlessly prevent mental health records from being included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”
“And when it comes to the issue of background checks, let’s be honest – background checks will never be “universal” – because criminals will never submit to them.”
At this point Mr. LaPierre showed the arrogance he and the NRA have shown each and every time a microphone has been put in their face since Sandy Hook, saying that the NRA “is ready to participate” but lays down a gauntlet that the NRA’s position that the government has no right to dictate what guns people can lawfully own.
He says “Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals”…ignoring the gun’s role in the violence that kills over 12,000 Americans per year and he ignores the role the NRA plays as lobbyist for the gun industry.
“While we’re ready to participate in a meaningful effort to solve these pressing problems, we must respectfully – but honestly and firmly – disagree with some members of this committee, many in the media, and all of the gun control groups on what will keep our kids and our streets safe. Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals. Nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families.”
Then Mr. LaPierre drifted from mostly factual observations to outright lies. He contends, as many pro-gun supporters do that there was no positive effect from the gun ban in 1994, however every statistical analysis of actual numbers, actual trends show that gun violence peaked in 1995 and began falling afterward. US Department of Justice reports, which analyzed 28 years of data, from1980 to 2008 and proved beyond any doubt of when the peak violence happened and the drop from that time.
“Semi-automatic firearms have been around for over 100 years. They are among the most popular guns made for hunting, target shooting and self-defense. Despite this fact, Congress banned the manufacture and sale of hundreds of semi-automatic firearms and magazines from 1994 to 2004. Independent studies, including a study from the Clinton Justice Department, proved that ban had no impact on lowering crime.”
In the end, the NRA position has not changed…they still demand that the only solution is more guns, funds spend for their plan which brings in income to the NRA and that they are intractable in their willingness to look at 21st Century challenges without anchoring them to 18th Century philosophy.
The NRA is more than happy to focus on the tail of the dog as long as it does nothing to negatively affect the NRA’s multi-million dollar lobbying for the gun industry. Meanwhile, the rest of the country pays the price in blood and death to keep the profits flowing.
McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst. His grandfathers helped organize the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky and his father was a career long butcher and union representative.
You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.