After the nation observed a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. this morning, exactly one week after 20 children and six teachers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association broke its silence and delivered its highly anticipated message to the nation. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre blamed a range of factors but specifically targeted Hollywood, the media and the video game industry for the heightened culture of violence, specifically gun violence, in the United States.
LaPierre discussed the "dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal"--that the media's celebration of violence and the glorification of killers "act as silent enablers." Equally, video games allow players to simulate mass murder. His solution? The nation must deploy armed guards for every school. The lobbying group plans to initiate this effort by launching the National School Shield Program, headed by former Congressman Asa Hutchinson.
There's the blood-soaked slasher films like "American Psycho" and "Natural Born Killers" that are aired like propaganda loops on "Splatterdays" and every day, and a thousand music videos that portray life as a joke and murder as a way of life. And then they have the nerve to call it "entertainment." But is that what it really is? Isn't fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography? In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes—every minute of every day of every month of every year.
LaPierre said the media's emphasis on violence breeds a more violent society. But James Poniewozik of TIME wrote that "violent video games, and other gory entertainments, are popular in Japan, where guns and gun murders are scarce. If this doesn’t exonerate, or excuse, dumb violence, it at least indicates that armed assaults don’t leap fully formed from American TVs." He points to a media scholar's research that pop-culture violence does not directly cause real violence.
Hollywood stars released a new ad today petitioning President Obama and Congress to end gun violence. President Obama responded personally via YouTube today to the 32 separate gun control petitions and once again backed "common sense legislation that has the support of the majority of American people," such as banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. "I will do everything in my power as president to advance these efforts, because if there's even one thing we can do as a country to protect our children, we have a responsibility to try."
Since LaPierre did not take any questions at the press conference, a flurry of celebrities responded on Twitter.
NRA says we need armed guards at every school.Well, since NRA IS SHILLING FOR THE FIREARMS INDUSTRY, this makes good sense for them.— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) December 21, 2012
Armed guards in schools? Hmmmm... Oh! That's why the 2 armed guards that were at Columbine HS that day were able to prevent the 15 deaths?— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) December 21, 2012
NRA:If we banned schools there would never be another school shooting.— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers21) December 21, 2012
The @nra needs mental health care.— Kristen Bell(@IMKristenBell) December 21, 2012
LaPierre will appear this Sunday exclusively on NBC's "Meet the Press" and NRA president David Keene will appear on CBS's "Face the Nation."