So much for the good guy with a gun.
That, you will recall, was NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s preferred solution to America’s epidemic of firearms violence. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun,” he said, “is a good guy with a gun.” He said this on Dec. 21, 2012 — one week after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left dead six adults and 20 children ages 6 and 7.
Americans were grieving and demanding action, and this was his answer. The “good guy with a gun” would set things right.
To no one’s surprise, it hasn’t turned out that way. The latest example can be found in Uvalde, Texas — where two adults and 19 children were slaughtered last week at Robb Elementary School while police waited under orders from their incident commander for 78 minutes before engaging the shooter. The good guy with a gun — actually, “guys,” plural, “guns,” plural — dawdled while people died. Police initially concealed this bungling by releasing false and misleading information about the siege.
If the failure sounds familiar, that’s because it is. A good guy with a gun waited safely outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, four years ago as a gunman killed 17 people. And a good guy with a gun was among 10 people killed by a teenager on a racist rampage last month in Buffalo.
All of which underscores what was already obvious 10 years ago: LaPierre’s vision of fixing gun violence by turning schools, supermarkets and movie theaters into Western movie shootouts was always cracked. It has that in common with many ideas put forth by gun apologists.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, has proposed a ban on ... doors. “Have one door into and out of the school,” he says, “and have ... armed police officers at that door.”
Former FBI agent Maureen O’Connell wants bulletproof classroom decorations. She tells Fox “News,” about “blankets that you can put up on the wall that are colorful and beautiful, but they’re ballistic blankets.”
Or we can teach kids CPR, as former Sen. Rick Santorum once proposed, apparently so that after a shooting, the survivors can at least make themselves useful. Or we can give guns to the same teachers the right wing thinks can’t be trusted with books.
But waiting periods? Enhanced background checks? Permits? A ban on AR-15-style assault weapons?
What are you, nuts?
That ideas of such remarkable and transparent stupidity are advanced by purportedly serious people in positions of responsibility stands as testament to powers of delusion that are flat-out superhuman. They are willing to look anywhere and everywhere for solutions, except to the fact that America is the most heavily armed nation on Earth, a country of more guns than people. That, the gun apologists refuse to even consider.
These people are unfit for high office. Or low office. Or, indeed, any office giving them authority over any form of life higher than a houseplant.
At this writing, the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive counts 17 mass shootings — 74 wounded, 13 killed — just since Uvalde. In America, trauma is now routine and tragedy everyday, and so they will remain until voters — the ultimate arbiters in what is still, albeit barely, a democracy — finally demand better.
Until then, an observation made to CBS News in a quavering voice by 11-year-old Bella Barboza, an Uvalde survivor whose friend died in the shooting, remains hauntingly, accusingly, true.
“This world is not a good place for children to grow up in,” she said.
Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. firstname.lastname@example.org