The same confusion was apparently on George Zimmerman's mind. Another armed citizen, looking out for danger—and finding it in a teenager walking home with a bag of Skittles. This is what LaPierre wants to mobilize: "millions of qualified active and retired police; active, reserve, and retired military; security professionals; certified firefighters, security professionals, rescue personnel; an extraordinary corps of patriotic, trained, qualified citizens." With guns. Guns, guns, guns. Ready to use them.
And the police, too. "With all the foreign aid the United States does, with all the money in the federal budget, can’t we afford to put a police officer in every single school?" LaPierre said. Annie Lowrey of the New York Times quickly thumbnailed that proposal at $6.4 billion per year.
This is the most extraordinary thing about the NRA's ideology and the climate it's created. By the time you read this, there will almost certainly be someone who has jumped to the comments to denounce gun regulations as an infringement of fundamental liberties. It is only the presence of uncounted millions of guns, in the hands of uncounted millions of Americans—whether pointy-headed liberals recognize this as a "well-regulated militia" or not—that secures our freedom against the encroachment of a totalitarian police state.
Yet today, LaPierre got up and described the gun lobby's vision of our future: "A police officer in every single school." "Armed security ... building design ... access control ... information technology." "An active national database of the mentally ill."
This is the NRA’s idea of a free country. Kindergarteners on lockdown. Federal monitoring of everyone's mental-health status. Cops in every hallway.
The experts and counterexperts can and will keep arguing about the local and regional crime-rate effects under our ever-expanding concealed-carry and open-carry laws. One trend line, though, seems obvious: The Second Amendment and the Fourth Amendment have been moving in opposite directions. The NRA has racked up legislative triumph after legislative triumph, extending gun rights into airports, bars, churches, and schools. Yet rather than deferring to the armed public, the police have grown ever more militarized, ever less concerned with warrants, ever more willing to respond to disorderliness with overwhelming force. The government is collecting your email and tracking your phone. Drones are flying police missions in American skies. More than 2 million people are incarcerated.
None of that came up in LaPierre's discussion today, though he had time to denounce video games and the media. An ugly, violent, oppressive world is the world he wants. It's the world that gun culture thrives in. The only liberty that matters to these people is the liberty to kill.