Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 27, 2012

COLUMN: Debate after shooting predictably turns to gun rights, security

A lot of people were wondering what the National Rifle Association would have to say about the Newtown, Conn., massacre. And the NRA wanted it that way.

Maintaining official silence for a week after a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 26 people including 20 students, the gun rights organization promised a plan that would seriously address this sort of violence.

As it turned out, the answer, according to the NRA, is to post more armed guards at every school in America. The cost, by the way, has been estimated at upward of $2 billion a year.

Not surprisingly, NRA leaders flatly rejected any suggestion the Newtown incident warrants tightening gun laws. Instead, the organization’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, pegged much of the blame on American culture including a bleeding-heart news media that goes overboard with coverage of such tragedies, entertainment outlets that produce violent video games and movies that encourage bloody rampages.

So I guess I’m doubly to blame for what happened in Newtown. Not only am I a journalist, I’m someone who has watched more than his share of violent movies.

Funny thing, though. Despite my film-watching habits, I have never — ever — had the slightest desire to shoot up an elementary school or any other venue for that matter. Is there something wrong with me?

Actually, the problem here is that LaPierre is another one of those gasbags more interested in protecting his turf than addressing the problem. Watching a violent movie does not prompt someone to kill. That line of logic is about as silly as saying someone who owns a gun is a monster in the making.

LaPierre also declared that America needs to come up with a national database of mentally ill individuals, and implied that more of them need to be put away for the safety of those not so categorized.

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