The NRA and the Death Spiral

death spiral

The Newtown massacre was a private tragedy and a public shock. Always a tragedy, but perhaps not such a shock. Armed violence and death from the end of a firearm are so much a part of our American persona. I should be shocked at the shameless “solution” to the danger for schools offered today by the Executive Director of the NRA, but I am merely sickened by the deaf, insensitive, unfeeling, shameful, and absurd suggestion.

The National Rifle Association on Friday called for schools to be protected by armed guards as the best way to protect children from gun violence… The proposal from the pro-gun lobbying group, long the most vocal and influential organization generally opposing stricter regulation of firearms, came during the N.R.A.’s first organized media event after the deadly shootings in Newtown, Conn. The group also called for steps other than gun control, including cracking down on criminals and fighting violence in the media and on video games.

“The only way — the only way — to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection,” Mr. LaPierre said. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” … Gun-free school zones identified by signs, he said, serve only to “tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to effect maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

“So why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect the president of our country or our police but bad when it’s used to protect our children in our schools?” he continued. “They’re our kids. They’re our responsibility. And it’s not just our duty to protect them; it’s our right to protect them.”

Mr. LaPierre was quick to base their completely expected response on some right to protect. It is completely consistent with the “right” to protect each and every one of us by carrying a weapon to kill anyone that threatens us. I am a student of systems dynamics and know that this right (better a wrong) leads inevitably and inexorably to a nation with 100% of its adults (why restrict it to adults) armed, preferably openly armed. Given the paranoia embedded in the NRA answer, what will stop many mindless deaths from people thinking that the approaching armed stranger means harm. This is certainly not the picture seen by the framers of our constitution.

I do not have children in school, but do have many grandkids going off everyday. Schools are an important place of learning for our children. More history for a moment. The founding fathers knew that an educated body of citizens was necessary for the kind of democracy they sought to function. Our educational system has lost that sense and now aims to create the workers of tomorrow. In any case, our children learn much more in school than are embedded in the materials provided by the teachers. They learn how to live with others. They build pictures of the how the world works and how they can interact with it.

Guns have no, or at best a limited, place in this. We strive to keep our children out of jails after they leave school, but do a very bad job of that. If they go through school, locked inside of a jail, protected by armed guards, what kind of world are they learning to live in? Jail becomes the new normal.

My systems dynamics also tells me that this context will only reinforce the idea that the world is a bad place, where guns are needed everywhere to keep one safe and “free.” One doesn’t need systems dynamics to understand the pathology of the NRA’s and gun apologists/lovers “solution.” I can think of no quicker way to destroy what little remains of our human core of caring. Fear of the other is the antithesis of care, virtually completely preventing any kind of productive or coordinative relationship. As the world’s resources continue to shrink, we will need to get along with each other better, not the reverse. No sustainability here.

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