Many are criticizing the National Rifle Association’s response to the recent shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. I wish to say a few words in defense of this organization. The NRA statement that “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” is a core American belief, a slogan that belongs alongside “e pluribus unum” and “In God we Trust.” This has been true from the men who gathered at Lexington and Concord to the drones presently flying silently through the sky on our behalf.
We are a people who believe that the way to solve a problem is to kill the troublemaker.
In our hearts we know this and so we arm ourselves with handguns and assault weapons to protect ourselves from our own government and from each other. There are three hundred million of us, each within reach of a cache of weapons. If just one of us flips out, we have a Newtown-style massacre.
So the NRA is right. The organization just didn’t go far enough. We do need armed guards in every school. But we also need them at every cocktail party, wedding reception and bar mitzvah. We need them at farmers’ markets, at funerals and at prayer vigils. And we will need to develop a cadre of people who can vet the guards and guard us from them. Because who knows? Adam Lanza was not an alien from some other planet. He’s the kid down the street with issues. The one who lives with his mother, a nice woman who volunteers at the school and likes to fire off a few rounds at the local gun range. He’s been to the multiplex and he knows who the American hero truly is: the man who can kill other men without hesitation, without fear or guilt or any other debilitating emotion. He is U.S. Grant, Phil Sheridan, Wyatt Earp, Dirty Harry, a member of SEAL Team Six. He is one of us. And he’s armed.