Monday, December 24, 2012

Daily News comes out Swinging against NRA's Wayne LaPierre.

Known for outrageous headlines, the Daily News was right at home with this:

Wayne 'Call Me Crazy' LaPierre might just be: Psychiatrists say the NRA vice president specializes in fear and paranoia

"If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," LaPierre said Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, said LaPierre was playing into fears that are uniquely Americans. "To the extent that the NRA stokes the fears of ordinary people about the dangers in society, and sells them on the notion that only a gun, or several guns, can protect them from the dangers that lurk outside, they have more members," he added. "It's completely in their interest to try to promote that vision of America as an intrinsically dangerous place where one needs to be constantly on guard. There's no question that his comments were intended to, and will in fact harm people with mental illness, in a variety of ways. His comments stoke the fears of the public which already exist about people with mental illness," he said.
So how sincere is Wayne LaPierre about safer schools? He’s not, according to this from the Atlantic:
"But do know this President zeroed out school emergency planning grants in last year's budget, and scrapped "Secure Our Schools" policing grants in next year's budget."
This is also true, but also quite bold of LaPierre to bring up, since he began his speech by attacking "gun-free school zones" and ignored the record of the NRA efforts on community policing. In the 1994 crime bill that included the original assault weapons ban, Bill Clinton included a new program called "Community Oriented Policing Services" that meant to add 100,000 new police officers to our streets (which LaPierre is essentially now proposing by putting cops in every school.) The NRA opposed that bill in 1994 and later mocked the COPS program for failing to meet its promise. Now he's complaining about the loss of "Secure Our Schools" grants. They were administered by COPS.
But a few other things didn’t hold up under scrutiny:
"Federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 40% — to the lowest levels in a decade. So now, due to a declining willingness to prosecute dangerous criminals, violent crime is increasing again for the first time in 19 years!"
It's true that the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported an increase in violent crime in 2011 (from record lows the year before), but that increase was attributed almost entirely to a rise in simple assaults: which specifically means no weapon was used. It's also true that federal prosecutions of gun crimes are down, however, since it would make sense of a decline in prosecutions to also match a decline in violent crimes to prosecute
"How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?"
To our knowledge, no one — not even the NRA — has proposed a national database of the mentally ill. Since similar databases of sex offenders have done little to protect children from sex crimes, that seems unlikely to help. Also, few organizations have done more than the NRA to block the registration of anything. Most recently, they have called for the repeal of Michigan's state-wide pistol registry, a law that State Police credit for solving a recent shooting spree that targeted drives on the busy I-96 corridor. However, they do maintain a National Registry of Places to Shoot.
"Worse, they perpetuate the dangerous notion that one more gun ban — or one more law imposed on peaceful, lawful people — will protect us where 20,000 others have failed!"
It is an oft-repeated talking point … a 2003 study from the Brooking Institution challenged that unsourced statistic, which has apparently been floating around since the 1960s. They pegged the number of statewide gun control laws at about 300 [PDF], adding that "even a very liberal interpretation of what should count as a separate law would leave the total well short of 20,000."

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