I haven’t yet had time to listen to the speeches delivered at the just-concluded NRA meeting in Indianapolis, but within the next few days they will probably be posted by the NRA. I won’t bother to listen to Palin and Oliver North because they are just show up for a speaker’s fee, but I will pay attention to Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum, because this trio are prominently mentioned as potential Republican standard-bearers in 2016. I did find a report on Rick Santorum’s speech on a CNN blog, which quoted him as saying that he was in complete agreement with the NRA as regards using guns to protect all of us from crime. In fact, Santorum came up with a catchy little phrase which I suspect he’ll trot out a few more times before the election really begins to take shape. At the NRA show and again on a Sunday television interview he said, “a well-armed family is a safe family, a well-armed America is a safer America.”
And if you want to know who all these well-armed Americans are protecting us from, a complete list was furnished the NRA audience by America’s chief crime-fighter, Wayne LaPierre, who painted this portrait of a society on the edge of chaos and collapse because the following people are running around: “terrorists, home invaders, drug cartels, car jackers, ‘knock-out’ gamers, rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse as a society that sustains us all.”
I can’t think of a more effective way to stop chemical attacks or the spread of the plague than a loaded .38 on my night-table or an assault rifle propped up behind the front door. Okay, so Wayne-o is given to a bit of hyperbole when he gets up in front of the faithful, and he knows he won’t get air-time unless he says something that’s just a little bit beyond belief. The only problem is that the NRA is staking out such an extreme position that to wind up as the most pro-gun candidate in a field of pro-gun candidates is to push yourself so far to the edge that there’s no way to go but down.
At one point LaPierre rhetorically asked the audience whether they would trust the government to protect them and of course the answer was a resounding ‘no.’ But while the NRA only ramps up its anti-government rhetoric when the government happens to be controlled by the Democrats, the notion that we all have to walk around with guns because, as LaPierre says, “we’re on our own” in facing this terrible, crime-ridden world, cuts both ways. The truth is that if you get elected President, the first thing you have to do before moving into the White House is to take an oath in which you promise to defend America against its enemies. What’s Santorum going to do if he’s standing there with his hand on the Bible? Ask Wayne LaPierre to serve as Secretary of Defense?
The NRA’s been able to grow its membership and flex its political muscle for one reason and one reason only: there’s a very liberal, very progressive politician sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who doesn’t buy the argument that walking around with a concealed weapon makes you safe. Even if the NRA could produce a legitimate study that showed this to be the case, which they haven’t, by the way, it probably wouldn’t change Obama’s mind anyway. But Obama’s out of here in slightly more than 28 months, and we could wind up with a President who really does believe that the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center could have been shot out of the sky if someone in one of the twin towers had been armed with a gun. Which will make it rather difficult for the NRA to pretend that we need to arm and protect ourselves because the government isn’t up to the job.