NRA Suggests a Police State

Exclusive: The irony of the NRA’s crackpot idea for protecting America’s children by dramatically expanding the use of armed guards is that the proposal would push the U.S. further down the path toward a police state, threatening the “liberties” that the NRA claims it wants to ensure, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

If one follows the “logic” of the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre, the United States should become an armed camp with armored-up police carrying high-powered weapons stationed at virtually every location where children might congregate and where a crazy person might show up with a semi-automatic assault rifle.

After all, why stop at protecting schools? A mentally unstable individual could just as easily walk into a shopping mall at Christmas and murder kids waiting to talk to Santa Claus or enter a theater showing a Disney film and open fire on the tiny movie-goers or stroll onto a field where children are playing soccer and empty a 100-round magazine.

The National Rifle Association’s graphic for its proposed “National School Shield.”

If we are to really protect the children as LaPierre suggests, we should have armor-encased SWAT officers at literally every event where there are kids. It clearly wouldn’t do to just have some donut-eating cops with simple sidearms. All they would do is provide initial target practice for a gunman with his Bushmaster AR-15.

No, we would need “good guys with guns” at least equal in firepower to the “bad guys with guns.” That is, if we were to apply LaPierre’s reasoning as expressed at the NRA’s news conference on Friday, belatedly responding to the massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, a week earlier.

So, rather than enact commonsense gun-control laws that could begin ratcheting down America’s crazy arms race, LaPierre recommends escalating the arms race by turning pretty much the entire country into security zones, the sort that U.S. airports have become, except at airports the passengers are not allowed to carry guns.

Everywhere else if LaPierre and the NRA’s benefactors in the gun industry have their way “good guys” will be wielding lethal weapons for self-defense and for the defense of others, unless, of course, one of the “good guys” snaps and suddenly becomes a “bad guy.” Or a “good guy” might misinterpret a move by a suspected “bad guy” and start blasting away under the NRA’s “stand your ground” principle.

Presumably, then, others might join in with their Bushmasters and then one of the omnipresent SWAT officers might have to unleash his own lethal firepower to bring matters under control.

It’s been noted that at the Columbine massacre, there was an armed officer present who fired on the gunmen but missed, failing to deter the slaughter. And, in stopping a knife-wielding man in Times Square, trained New York police officers wounded nine civilians.

In other words, the cinematic version of gunplay, as envisioned by LaPierre and right-wing politicians like Newt Gingrich, in which the hero-policeman or the hero-civilian fires one precise shot to take out the villain-gunman isn’t how things play out in real life. Usually there’s a lot of collateral damage.

Ironically, LaPierre seems to have watched too many of those violent movies that he blames for America’s epidemic of gun violence.

The Framers’ Intent

Ironically, too, LaPierre and his fellow-travelers claim they are all about “liberty,” i.e. their twisted historical narrative that insists the Framers included the Second Amendment because they wanted the American people to go to war with their own constitutionally elected government.

But LaPierre’s prescription for addressing the need to protect America’s children is to further militarize American society. A country with SWAT teams deployed preemptively at every public place where a deranged gunman might murder children is a nation with all the trappings of a police state.

LaPierre’s defenders might say that his recommendation only applies to schools, a proposal that would require its own massive reallocation of government resources. But even this gargantuan obligation to defend all schools all the time would not achieve the desired goal of protecting the nation’s children.

That would require a much larger effort, practically a permanent deployment of militarized SWAT teams everywhere at all times. Which, in turn, might convince “liberty-loving” Americans that it’s finally time to put that arsenal in the basement to use for real, fighting against the oppressive state.

Of course, the real American Framers, people like James Madison and George Washington, were not crazed ideologues like Wayne LaPierre. They were pragmatic nationalists who feared the danger to their newly independent nation if “domestic Tranquility” could not be achieved through the creation of effective governance.

The Framers assembled in Philadelphia in 1787 to replace the ineffective, states’-rights-oriented Articles of Confederation. In writing the U.S. Constitution, they opted instead for a new democratic Republic with a strong central government. [See Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative.]

With memories of the 1786-87 Shays’ Rebellion still fresh, Madison and Washington led the way in devising a system that allowed for the expression of popular will through the House of Representatives, elected every two years, yet with safeguards against hasty changes by having the Senate, elected (then by state legislatures) to six-year terms.

Contrary to the Right’s current false narrative, the Framers were not inviting armed resistance to the government by adding the Second Amendment. After all, the Framers mostly were the government. In the Constitution, they also defined armed rebellion “levying war against” the United States as treason, and they included a federal guarantee to protect the states “against domestic Violence.”

The Second Amendment with its right to bear arms was added to the Constitution with the preamble that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” indicating that its chief purpose was to enable the government to form militias to maintain “security,” not to invite violence and insecurity.

Simultaneous with the ratification of the Bill of Rights, i.e. the first ten amendments in 1791, was an anti-tax uprising in western Pennsylvania known as the Whiskey Rebellion. So, with the Second Amendment on the books, the Second Congress enacted the Militia Acts of 1792, which mandated all military-age white males to procure a musket and other equipment so they could participate in militias.

State militias were organized or strengthened, and President Washington personally led a combined force of state militias numbering around 13,000 men to suppress the Whiskey rebels in 1794. In other words, the first use of the new militia powers was to put down a popular revolt, not invite one.

Yes, I know the Right has cherry-picked some inflammatory comments by Founders to suggest that they wanted an armed population to wage perpetual revolution, but that is not what the historical record indicates. The leading lights of the Constitution were mostly aristocrats, like Washington and Madison, who had personal as well as political interests in making the American experiment succeed with minimal domestic unrest.

Thomas Jefferson was perhaps the most incendiary of the major Founders, but significantly he did not participate in the Constitutional Convention in 1787 because he was serving as America’s ambassador to France. Thus, he was not a Framer of the Constitution, though he generally supported it.

Jefferson also was a notorious hypocrite, proclaiming that “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence of 1776 but justifying his slave-holding by arguing for white superiority in his 1781 Notes on the State of Virginia. As the nation’s third president from 1801-09, one of Jefferson’s principal fears was the possibility of slave revolts like the one that occurred in Haiti.

Indeed, contrary to the Right’s current mythology about the Framers wanting an armed population to resist the tyranny of their own government, the Framers actually saw the arming of whites as a means of crushing slave revolts, as well as providing “security” on the frontier and the ability to put down other insurrections, like the Whiskey Rebellion.

Until 2008, when modern right-wingers had control of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Second Amendment had been interpreted as a collective right for a “well-regulated Militia,” not an individual right. But Justice Antonin Scalia led four other right-wing justices in reversing that longstanding precedent though still recognizing the government’s right to establish some reasonable limits on gun ownership.

Scalia is one who often insists that the “original intent” of the Framers must be followed. But he ignored the evidence that the Framers saw the Second Amendment as a means to promote “security,” not insecurity.

It’s also obvious that the Framers lived in a world of single-fire muskets that required time-consuming reloading between shots.The Framers had no experience with repeat rifles, let alone semi-automatic assault rifles with 100-bullet magazines, the kind of weapon that could kill 20 schoolchildren and six teachers in a matter of minutes.

Yet, LaPierre and other right-wingers insist that the “liberty” to own such weapons was what the Framers intended and is therefore inviolate.

So, to maintain this fictional “liberty,” LaPierre and his allies offer two principal solutions: one, to crack down on the media for glamorizing violence (despite the protections of the First Amendment) and put the United States on course to become ever more a police state, where heavily armed “good guys” are on guard almost everywhere waiting to gun down some perceived “bad guy.” On top of that there is the ghastly prospect that poorly trained citizens will be encouraged to whip out their own guns and start firing at every possible threat.

Surely, this is not what the Framers had in mind to “insure domestic Tranquility.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

21 comments for “NRA Suggests a Police State

  1. Mikai
    December 27, 2012 at 06:05

    And nobody asks why it happened?! Everyone is just trying to deal with effects instead of solving the problem. Why they treat an autism as an illness? Why was an autistic boy overdosed with harmful, but prescribed drugs from medical companies, drugs that do more wrong than good, turning people into crazy maniacs.

  2. Mark
    December 25, 2012 at 22:45

    Well said!

  3. Rowland
    December 24, 2012 at 13:57

    This paragraph needs to be repeated: “The only “real” activity we train kids for now is violence. The only “real” implement they can get their hands on now is a gun. Model airplanes are mass produced already assembled in China. Why build a radio when Taiwan produces them for next to nothing? Why learn to operate a metal lathe when some slave-laborer in India will do it for fifty cents an hour? A construction company in my neighborhood is building new homes. I haven’t heard a word of English spoken on any of the job sites. I guess they can’t find an American that can saw a board or drive a nail. Why bother? Mexicans will do it for next to nothing. We Americans are above all that…after all, ours is a “service” economy. We only really excel at the manufacture of three things: alcohol, tobacco…and firearms.”

  4. Ahem
    December 24, 2012 at 12:19

    The real objective behind the NRA’s stand, other than gun-sales profit, would seem to be the solution to the perceived over-population problem (recall the Bushism during his reign). While encouraging the formation of a police state, the solution also provides a cover for the blossoming of the NWO. What the members of the NRA need to keep in mind is that those they would call the “good guys” may be seen as the “bad guys” through the eyes of others–the NRA itself could be viewed by some as a terrorist organization; surely NRA members are aware of this……

  5. December 23, 2012 at 23:11

    I read the comments only right before I posted this. I hope I am not out of order not to stay up the rest of the night rewritten it. I wish thoughtful comments were on other sites.

    I cry for America.

    The last election had the appearance of a progressive cultural sweep. Abortion issues, gay issues and immigration issues were one team, and those on the other side felt they lost so bad that they were crying that the America they knew would never return. Now the deck is reshuffled with gun control added into gay rights etc. destined to tip the scale toward Conservatism again.

    It is deeper than that, Obama at first avoiding hot button issues and the one percent was furious, because without hot button issues getting in the way we are the 99% and they the one percent. So Obama began to do what the 1% wants push hot button issues that keep the 99% divided. But if the progressive side is victorious than we would stop arguing and begin to realize that we are the 99%. The elementary school tragedy came just in time for the rich to keep getting richer at an even faster pace.

    I am not sure how many lives were saved the last time automatic guns were banned. Not enough to brag about or I would know. However if someone has a gun in a household where those who aren’t allowed to purchase a gun also resided including children had to have them kept under lock and key and as technology gets cheaper fingerprint locks only Nancy Lanza would have been happy to comply rather than insult her son by suddenly locking them up without being required to. He was already furious that she was trying to get him locked up. And seemed to be interested in working with real children volunteering at a school rather than continuing to care for him. More detail @

    11 libertarians House members and 11 progressive Democrats signed a demand to cut the Defense budget. 10 Libertarians had a 92 or 100% NRA score. And 10 of the Democrats were zero. Now instead of cutting the Military budget, Consortium News and everyone else progressive is going to have an assault weapons ban. I for one am not cheering.

  6. William Brad Hoffmann
    December 23, 2012 at 22:54

    I think you are ALL missing the obvious !

    The link between the killings and the killers are the pharmaceutical companies and the doctor’s that prescribe the snake oil pills that have SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS !!!!

    I believe w/o the pills these killers would not have the balls to go out in the public at all,
    they have no social skills to confront people just to say “HI”…….

    Stop the pharma zombies from being created !!

  7. Roy
    December 23, 2012 at 22:15

    This entire discussion misses the point. Everyone needs to be responsible for their own protection. Kindergarten students should have at least a third of their class time devoted to firearms training and when they start first grade each of them should carry, at all times, an autoloading firearm. Imagine if this latest killer had been confronted with classrooms full of heavily armed six year olds. Certainly the outcome might have been different.

  8. PineBuffalo
    December 23, 2012 at 17:40

    Well, Wayne went farther than he needed to.

    Do you all understand why you don’t hear about school shootings in Israel? Because often the teachers are armed and quite capable of taking down a vicious beast like the Newtown shooter.

    I’m not suggesting that ALL teachers need to be armed. But those willing to go armed could surely get a background check and training free from their local law enforcement. They’d have to buy their own gun and ammo, naturally.

    Of course, in NYC the law enforcement training might be a bit weak, since the NYPD themselves offed several innocent bystanders during a recent shoot out, if I recall.

    It would certainly improve matters and the cost would not fall on the feds.

    • PineBuffalo
      December 23, 2012 at 17:47

      CORRECTION: the NYPD wounded nine bystanders rather than killing several. I apologize for the error.

    • F. G. Sanford
      December 23, 2012 at 17:49

      I think you missed the point. Plainly stated, Israel is a police state. It’s not a country the U.S.A. should be proud to emulate.

  9. Joe Oberman
    December 23, 2012 at 17:03

    Did Adam Lanza’s mother (Nancy) violate Connecticut gun laws?

    Sec. 29-37i. (Formerly Sec. 29-37c). Responsibilities re storage of loaded firearms with respect to minors. No person shall store or keep any loaded firearm on any premises under his control if he knows or reasonably should know that a minor is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the parent or guardian of the minor unless such person (1) keeps the firearm in a securely locked box or other container or in a location which a reasonable person would believe to be secure or (2) carries the firearm on his person or within such close proximity thereto that he can readily retrieve and use it as if he carried it on his person. For the purposes of this section, “minor” means any person under the age of sixteen years.

    Adam Lanza was the only one living with his mother (Nancy), she didn’t feel compel to LOCK and SECURE her weapons (the public does not know if in fact her weapons were locked and secured, as the CT State Police spokesperson has not said to the contrary they were), maybe because Adam was 20 years of age (considered an adult) and not a “minor”.

    Apparently, she didn’t violate state law. But not LOCKING and SECURING her weapons… cost her, her life and the lives of all those little children and adults.

    Perhaps, the term “minor” needs some tweaking from Connecticut’s state legislators were it means any person under the age of 25 years. And, the law should add… No person shall store or keep any loaded firearm on any premises under his control if he knows or reasonably should know that a minor or psychologically ill person (on medicine for such illness) is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the parent or guardian

    • December 23, 2012 at 23:25

      Adam was home school after bad fights with other kids. He was mad that she was trying to get him committed, and that she was volunteering at a school taking care of real children instead of the rest of her life taking care of Adam.

      I have a question. Was there something she could have done to safe her life and that of the others?

      By the way what can I say to remind people that we are the 99% instead of half of us cultural bad guys.

  10. SuLee
    December 23, 2012 at 15:59

    Republicans simply must be against this idea. Why? Because LaPierre has suggested Congress would fund it with federal dollars. This would be an expense, and Republicans say the spending must cease at once! Sounds to me, then, that with Democrats being agsinst this (because of the morality issue) and with Republicans also being against it (because of the spending involved), this idea is dead on arrival.

  11. F. G. Sanford
    December 23, 2012 at 15:35

    God, guns and gays, the traditional “wedge issues”, are obviously still effective at derailing America’s attention from the real issues that will destroy their freedom. As we approach the bogus “fiscal cliff”, which is being used as a vehicle to put economic civil rights on the bargaining table, this issue serves as a convenient distraction. Funding for almost everything that made America great has slowly been eroded, including investment in our schools and our children. On some non-verbal level, those children know it. Once upon a time, there were activities that included wood shop, metal shop, art and music programs, auto mechanics, electronics, etc. I was shocked to learn that, thirty years after I graduated, my old high school had eliminated all those programs, auctioned off all the equipment and used the space to accommodate various “cultural” programs. Gladiatorial activities in the form of athletic programs to entertain the parents are in full swing. Personally, I’m tired of kids knocking on my door requesting donations for various “booster” programs to benefit school athletics. Kids go to school and participate in essentially violent sports programs, go home and entertain themselves with violent video games, go to the movies and watch violent entertainment, then graduate and go on to universities which survive based on the success of their violent athletic programs. Meanwhile, there isn’t a single kid out there today that can solder two wires together or build a model airplane.

    One of the few non-violent school programs that seems to survive is band activities. I recall a conversation with a high-school band director, who said, “Kids love band because the get to actually do something real. They get to hold a real implement in their hands and accomplish a real achievement that involves a real skill. Any moron can throw a ball or run around a track”.

    The only “real” activity we train kids for now is violence. The only “real” implement they can get their hands on now is a gun. Model airplanes are mass produced already assembled in China. Why build a radio when Taiwan produces them for next to nothing? Why learn to operate a metal lathe when some slave-laborer in India will do it for fifty cents an hour? A construction company in my neighborhood is building new homes. I haven’t heard a word of English spoken on any of the job sites. I guess they can’t find an American that can saw a board or drive a nail. Why bother? Mexicans will do it for next to nothing. We Americans are above all that…after all, ours is a “service” economy. We only really excel at the manufacture of three things: alcohol, tobacco…and firearms.

    As union busting and the dismantling of social safety programs progress at the whim of the financial sector which subsidizes our short-sighted politicians, the last “real” American products, guns, are also becoming a rarity. Visit a gun store, and you’ll find plenty of Italian, German and Brazilian products. Winchesters are too expensive, and Iver Johnson went out of business. It amazes me that some right-wing tool always comes up with the canard that Nazi Germany imposed gun control. It was a country literally swimming in pistols, “personal protection” being a hallmark of fascism.

    As our youth are progressively disenfranchised by the prospect of a future with no meaningful role in our “service economy”, it comes as no surprise to me that they exact revenge against the institutions they perceive to be their nemesis: schools. They turn to the only “real” activity available.

    As an aside, Iver Johnson sales boomed during the last great depression, in part due to the rise in armed robbery. Their ad said, “Iver Johnson Revolvers are not toys. They shoot straight and they kill. You may need one only once in your lifetime: buy now so you will have it at that time”. This depression is no different. Can there be any doubt that the same fascist agenda is anything but a foregone conclusion?

  12. Larry Linn
    December 23, 2012 at 15:15

    The National Rifle Association and Wayne LaPierre’s solution to the problem is to place armed, want to be policemen, with minimal training into the schools to “protect” the children. Is he going to hire George Zimmerman?

  13. Craig
    December 23, 2012 at 15:14

    Oh, and weapons of mass destruction don’t kill people, people do. Yeah, I get that. And yet it makes the carnage so much worse and harder to protect against. Otherwise, why not just eliminate *any* restrictions to what a person can own? This is just so much silliness. People don’t need assault rifles, and the important freedoms of the second amendment don’t need assault weapons. But, for some reason, you are totally comfortable with an armed police state. Incredible.

  14. JosephW
    December 23, 2012 at 13:59

    Hmm. It seems to me that I recall the Balkans’ ethnic cleansings being carried out by guns–or guns were, at the very least, very helpful for those doing the “cleaning.”

    And some of the mass killings listed in your own link (the slave trade, the Native Americans, the Congo War) did actually feature guns as a key factor in the deaths. Don’t underestimate that.

  15. Robert
    December 23, 2012 at 12:31

    I can’t hardly stand it…I live in a country scared of it’s own shadow, and needs nuclear weapons to defend themselves…Fear this…Fear that…shoot what you fear…Ohhhhhh….the stupidity, it burns…..

  16. William Taber
    December 23, 2012 at 12:28

    Robert Parry’s conclusion that we would need “good guys with guns” at least equal in firepower to the “bad guys with guns” ignores the fact that the “bad guy” in these situations wants to kill as many people as possible, while the good guy with a gun only needs to take down the single individual bad guy. Those two approaches do NOT require equal weaponry.

    • JosephW
      December 23, 2012 at 13:54

      And yet, at Columbine, one “good guy with a gun” was UNable to take down two “bad guys with guns”–despite firing FOUR TIMES.

      And then, of course, there was the recent case where New York cops (presumably “good guys”) with guns took out a gunman (presumably “bad guy”) but ALSO wounded 9 innocent bystanders (also presumably “good guys”).

      And let’s not forget that a “good guy with a gun” could turn into a “bad guy with a gun” (witness the case of SSG Bales in Afghanistan).

      You need to remember that real life is NOT Hollywood. In real life, that good guy who “only needs to take down the single individual bad guy” is, more likely than not, NOT a professional sharpshooter nor does he usually spend so much time “practicing” his shooting. Check with hunters and find out how many shots they take that DON’T hit their target. Now, in a Hollywood film, it’s quite the opposite. Many people–even those who’ve never picked up a gun before–suddenly fire a single shot and kill the “bad guy” who’s armed to the teeth. (Of course, in those Hollywood films, the “good guys” are frequently as well-armed as the “bad guys.”)

    • Kat Swift
      December 25, 2012 at 16:09

      And you ignore the fact that, as parry points out, there can be collateral damage in any gunfire exchange. So just because one “good guy” wants to eliminate one “bad guy” who wants to eliminate scores of others doesn’t mean that things will necessarily turn out that way. Just look at how many U.S. soldiers have been killed by “friendly fire.”

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