Times Record: NRA has gone too far (Dec. 24, 2012)

After the silence, a burst of gunfire Friday from the National Rifle Association.

We’d been waiting for a week to hear what the nation’s largest pro-gun lobby would bring to the conversation about how we can stop their products from murdering schoolchildren.

Under fire, the group spent a week like a deer in the headlights, then gave us what was tantamount to being told to go have a drink while at an AA meeting.

The answer to guns is more guns, said the NRA.

This proposal did nothing to bolster the image of a tone-deaf group on a single-minded, perpetual warpath, and would do nothing to stop the violence. It would only increase it.

Let’s be clear about something: Elementary schools are not war zones. Guns do not belong there — or any place where youths gather. If we learned anything from the events in Newtown, Conn., it is that guns and kids do not mix. Period.

There’s also nothing about all the various and important mandates, rules, restrictions and expectations we place on our teachers that should include “marksmanship” or “steady aim.”

Last Thursday, teachers indicated they agree. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers released a statement that branded as “astounding and disturbing” comments by the governor of Virginia that an armed teacher could have stopped the Sandy Hook massacre.

Every time the United States sees a spasm of gun violence, the NRA is on the scene two days later with a press conference extolling the virtues of guns. It’s a tactic we saw after the horrific events at Columbine High School — part sales, part intimidation.

This time — everyone agrees — was different. The weeklong silence seemed to indicate some soul-searching that would lead to a reasonable answer.

The NRA has been steadfast in its lobbying to block laws that would restrict high-capacity ammunition magazines and semi-automatic guns. It had the opportunity to relent on Friday.

Instead, it chose to attack teachers for not being prepared to fight when they come to school.

What is it about the bullet-ridden bodies of 20 dead children doesn’t the NRA understand, that the group would be so callous as to suggest we “fight fire with fire” over the heads of 6-year-olds sitting in math class, or expose kids to guns mandated by the state?

It is a vision every bit as morbid and senseless as the acts that have preceded it — and would do nothing to stem gun violence.

That the idea of a school shootout has the NRA only promoting the wider use of guns gives its Maine members every cause to reassess their allegiance.

In failing to recognize its products are harmful if improperly used, or that regulations on sales and use of guns are proper if narrowly tailored, the NRA has shown its absolutist attitude, ignorance and preoccupation with sales has gone too far.

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