Responding To The NRA

This week’s NTD News will be a little bit shorter than usual. However, I’m pretty sure that a less wordy commentary will be welcomed by more than a few of you regular readers. Here’s the reason. As a trustee on the board of our local mosquito abatement district, I’m spending the week in Kansas City at a mosquito abatement conference.

Now, you might think that turning my attention to the battle against disease-bearing mosquitoes would take my mind away from the big news topic of the past several days, America’s gun violence. But ironically, the opposite has occurred. It appears that gun proliferation apologists have an affinity for a specific word that is also in the lexicon of all mosquito abatement professionals – “response.”

I heard the word repeatedly in TV news interviews last week and Sunday morning. Whether it was the NRA paid mercenaries Wayne LaPierre and Dana Loesch, or NRA political lap dogs like Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, or our nation’s brilliant problem-solver President Donald J. Trump, they all emphasized that one word as the key to protecting our schoolchildren from being shot to death in class: “We must be better prepared to respond.”

The language may have varied slightly but that was their big idea. They endorsed a universal plan for a “response” to any crazed gunman shooting up a school. They said if we would just train selected teachers in each school to become skilled with a handgun, they could respond to a kid with an AR-15 entering their classroom, his semi-automatic military rifle blazing away. – Yes, I suppose in Trump’s fantasy world those teachers might have a chance to out-shoot the intruder if they conducted their classes with their guns un-holstered, with a bullet in the chamber and they possessed quick draw skills. Otherwise, no way.

You don’t even have to imagine that terrifying scenario to see that calling for a “better response” to protect our kids is a fallacious approach. Just think about the word “respond” itself. It is a word that only comes into existence after some other action has already occurred. In the case of a school being terrorized by an armed gunman, a “response” would by definition only happen after the armed nut-case had wounded or killed a few kids. Maybe more than a few. 

Responding is not the same as preventing. Hospital trauma care centers respond to the results of auto accidents, they don’t prevent the causes of those accidents. Fire departments respond to fires, they don’t prevent the fires from starting. And when mosquito abatement pros respond to the appearance of disease carrying mosquitoes, the danger has already arrived. Action at that point is reactive with late night spraying to kill the mosquitoes when they are most active.

The “prevention” part of mosquito abatement is a totally different set of actions designed to eliminate the disease delivering “instrument” (the mosquito) before harm is done. It involves hitting thousands of street sewer catch basins with time-release larvacide to kill mosquito larva before they mature, finding and eliminating mosquito breeding sites such as junked car tires or abandoned swimming pools, educating the public to remove breeding sites around their homes.

A good mosquito abatement strategy doesn’t wait until something bad happens before taking action. Neither should any strategy for protecting our school children. A proactive plan should be initiated to eliminate the instrument that has repeatedly delivered death in our schools. That would be the AR-15 assault rifle. It should once again be banned from civilian sales.

For conservative defenders of the gun industry to claim that a strategy of response is the same as prevention is not only disingenuous it is dangerously ill-conceived and just plain asinine. The only thing their recommendations will accomplish is increased sales of guns to school districts across the country. Sorry Mr. LaPierre, Governor Hutchinson and President Trump but that’s my response to your patently phony solution.

Nels Howard
NTDO member since 1973 

P.S. I saw in the news today that Dick’s Sporting Goods has declared it will no longer sell AR-15 rifles in any of its stores or subsidiary businesses. Their CEO said the decision this time is permanent. He also issued a plea to elected officials to implement “common sense gun reform,” listing a number of sensible legislative actions that have been opposed by the NRA for years.

In other news Met Life Insurance, First National Bank of Omaha, Symantec, Hertz, United Airlines and Delta Airlineshave ended their business relationships with the NRA. — If you have dealings with any of these companies (or even if you don’t) you might consider sending them an email or written letter congratulating them on their ethical and brave action. Some are already getting a lot of push-back from the NRA and their defenders.