“The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters. People that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons, that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them.” -Wayne LaPierre VP of NRA in reaction to Newtown shooting
Initially so outraged by this statement given by the NRA’s Executive VP, I’m having difficulty choosing which part of this nonsense to sink my teeth into first. For simplicity’s sake, Wayne, I’ll start with your insensitivity and outright disregard for individuals with mental illness. You see, the dehumanizing speech you use (which can be easily dubbed over the moving lips of dictators on the brink of genocide), aggressively misrepresents the very nature of mental illness. While some genetic mental impairments are inherently lifelong conditions, the rates of violence are exceedingly low and the risk of an attack on the public is staggeringly minute especially considering the prevalence of impairment on the individual’s functioning. Surely, you must be talking about this group, because any other episodic condition or illness could happen to any of us, and I know you wouldn’t want to insinuate waging war on the entire population, right? Wayne, I appreciate that you are living proof that firearms are so simple enough that even a ‘caveman could do it’, the numbers simply aren’t in your favor when claiming that the mentally ill are the real targets.
Now, if in fact I misread your statement and maybe you’re not targeting individuals with permanent conditions. Maybe you just meant that people who ‘hear voices’ or are ‘driven by demons’ are the problem. Well, in that case, you should know that auditory hallucinations (which are the most commonly occurring hallucinations) and command delusions initially rarely lead to violence, let alone a threat to the general public. For a second, pretend you’re not an aggressively chauvinistic lobbyist and put yourself in the position of someone who like me, is hearing a message they don’t relate to. It’s scary. Either way, while delusions and hallucinations can intermittently occur in a number of disorders, let’s take the classic example of a patient with schizophrenia. The patient with this condition has, statistically speaking, roughly 4% of violent behavior, only slightly above the mean for an adult of their gender. However, an adolescent male with no presence of illness is ten times as likely to engage in violent behavior, at roughly 40%. Now, Wayne, tell me again why we’re not quarantining adolescent men?
But Wayne, friend, I think what I take offense to most in your inconsiderate verbal discharge is your ability to toss a population that is arguably the most vulnerable, most misunderstood, and most heavily stigmatized into the public eye to serve as cannon fodder for your pathetic campaign to sell firearms. I’m upset and disappointed that someone can live as many years as you have on this earth and still be under the impression that arming every man, woman, and fetus in this country is a viable option to address violence. Arming the public is not a symbol of power, it is a symptom of fear- fear that gives you and your organization more power, fear that grants the public an itchy trigger-finger at the hint of violence. What freedoms can we retain when our public, as you suggest, should not leave home without a concealed weapon? An organization based on profit, based on growth and expansion cannot be said to have any legitimate clout on the topics of democracy and justice. Sit down.
Wayne, what baffles me more, is that you continually deny the evidence at hand. The evidence that shows that humans act more aggressively even in the mere presence of a weapon (go Google “weapon effect”). It boggles my mind that you ignore the myriad uses of your products- not assault rifles, not high-cap mags- all of them. The power wielded by criminals on the street and in the home, snakes both in suits and in slums is a gaping societal tear. The amount that can be taken, attacked, and destroyed irreparably with the help of a handgun is far from the NRA’s message which is one step from placing hunting at the bottom of food pyramids printed on children’s cereal boxes. You ignore the overwhelming evidence showing the outrageously disproportionate prevalence of violence in America as compared to other countries. We could blame our justice system, our education system, our economic system, but you, Wayne, have chosen mentally ill individuals and the human susceptibility of fear to prey upon.
So perhaps you’re right. Perhaps there are monsters out there that we cannot fully understand. And perhaps they should think twice before they hold a press conference again.
As for understanding the ‘monsters’, that depends on our will power, Mr. LaPierre. I’ll work on understanding, and you’re welcome to solve societal problems by turning your safety off.
May you be free from harm. May you be peaceful. May you not be so fucking ignorant.