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NRA's LaPierre slips into performance art

The National Rifle Association, quite conspicuously, said literally nothing in the wake of last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary at Newtown,

The National Rifle Association, quite conspicuously, said literally nothing in the wake of last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary at Newtown, Conn. Instead, the group very carefully took its time, crafted a specific message to present to the public, which would present the NRA and its vision in the best possible light.

And this train wreck is what the group came up with.

To call this a press conference is to mislabel what transpired. The NRA's Wayne LaPierre decided to give a speech, and the group refused at the outset to consider questions from the reporters that had been invited to the event.

It went downhill from there. It was hard to tell at times whether LaPierre was serious or had become a spectacular performance artist, making a dramatic statement about the absurdity of the NRA's increasingly twisted worldview.

Regardless, his performance is worth watching, if only to marvel at its farcical qualities, but don't brush past the substance of his message. As LaPierre sees it, there's a very long list of culprits that bear responsibility for gun violence -- but guns have no place on that list.

The NRA leader this morning blamed gun-free school zones, the media, the entertainment industry, video games, music he doesn't like, existing gun-control laws, and President Obama as all sharing collective responsibility for tragic violence. Guns, however, are fine.

LaPierre was willing to call for a new national database. Of firearms? No. Of gun owners? No. What the NRA wants instead is a new national database of Americans with mental illness.

This was a public-relations fiasco that only John Boehner can properly relate to.

But let's pay special attention to LaPierre's most important policy proposal.

As the NRA leader sees it, the only proper solution to "a bad guy with a gun" is ... wait for it ... "a good guy with a gun." With that in mind, LaPierre's big new idea is armed guards at every school in the United States.

No, seriously, that's what he wants.

Of course, school campuses can be awfully large, and the guards can't be posted at every entrance, so I'm not sure why the NRA isn't also suggesting armed guards be assigned to every student in every school.

Indeed, massacres aren't limited to schools, so it stands to reason that the nation will also need armed guards "deployed" -- a word LaPierre used in his speech -- to movie theaters, shopping malls, and houses of worship.

And what happens when people go home? People are sometimes shot by criminals in their own house, which suggest we'll need armed guards at all U.S. homes, too.

You get the point.

Honestly, it seemed like LaPierre was going out of his way to alienate even people who might be skeptical about new gun laws and sympathetic to his arguments. Gun-control advocates shouldn't have been annoyed by the NRA's public-relations disaster, they should have been thrilled.