In Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on February 7, 2013 at 12:16 am

In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Gaius Cassius–who has just murdered Caesar–tries to console Mark Antony over the death of his longtime friend.

“Why,” says Cassius, “he that cuts off 20 years of life cuts off so many years of fearing death.”

Cassius’ words might well serve as the motto of the National Rifle Association.

On January 21, Barack Obama delivered his Second Augural Address after once again taking the oath as President of the United States.

The next day, Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, offered his own commentary on that address.

Wayne LaPierre

“President Barack Obama quoted the Declaration of Independence and he talked about ‘unalienable rights.’ I would argue that his words make a mockery of both,” LaPierre said at the annual black-tie Weatherby International Hunting and Conservation Awards in Reno, Nevada.

It could be argued that, shortly before La Pierre’s speech, members of his own constituency made a mockery of the NRA’s efforts to arm every American with a gun–and install armed guards at every school.

On January 20, the  15-year-old son of a New Mexico pastor used an assault rifle to murder his mother, father, two younger sisters and a brother.  He then intended to shoot up a Walmart and cause “mass destruction.”

All that saved those Walmart shoppers from death was his impulsive decision to spend the rest of the day with his 12-year-old girlfriend.

The shooting spree began shortly around 1 a.m. on the day before Obama’s inauguration.  Nehemiah Griego sneaked into his parents’ bedroom while his mother, Sara, was asleep. There he raided the closet where the family kept their guns, and immediately used a .22 rifle to kill her.

His nine-year-old brother was sleeping next to his mother at the time.  When Nehemiah told the boy his mother was dead, the sibling refused to believe it.

So Nehemiah picked up his mother’s head to show the boy the woman’s blood-covered face.  When his brother started crying, Nehemiah shot him, too.

Moving on to the bedroom of his two sisters–ages 2 and 5–Nehemiah found them crying.  So he shot each of them in the head.

Nehemiah waited for his father, Greg, to return home from his overnight shift working at a nearby rescue mission. When this happened around 5 a.m., Nehemiah shot him multiple times with the AR-15 rifle.

Greg Griego was a former church pastor at Calvary Church in Albuquerque, and worked as a chaplain at a local jail where he counseled convicts.

Nehemiah Griego then packed up the .22 and AR-15 rifles and two shotguns, as well as ammunition, and planned to drive to a Walmart to shoot additional people.

But then he called his 12-year-old girlfriend and spent the entire day with her rather than going to the Walmart.

Around 8 p.m. they drove to Calvary Church, and Griego said his family had died in a car crash. Someone on the church’s staff then called 911.

The truth came out soon after during the police interrogation.

During his inaugural address, President Obama said: “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”

Taking issue with this, La Pierre said: “When absolutes are abandoned for principles, the U.S. Constitution becomes a blank slate for anyone’s graffiti.”

La Pierre’s speech came on the same day that yet another school shooting captured national headlines.

Four people were wounded and hospitalized when a shooting erupted at the North Harris campus of Lone Star College in Houston, Texas.

At first, faculty and students feared that the campus was the target of another armed intruder.  Instead, the rampage was triggered by an argument between two men–at least one of whom was armed.

One of the students, a 23-year-old woman, collapsed in a classroom.  A teacher and a student gave the woman CPR inside the classroom and called 911.

When she regained consciousness, the woman said that fear had overwhelmed her: “I went through this already at Virginia Tech, and I just don’t like this feeling.”

The NRA is a fervent champion of assault weapons–and concealed handgun permits–for everyone who wants them.

During the previous week, President Obama had proposed a series of measures to reduce gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre on December 14.  These included:

  • Close background check loopholes for all gun buyers–including those at gun shows.
  • Ban the ownership of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
  • Arm law enforcement with additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crimes–such as imposing tough penalties on gun-traffickers.
  • End the Congressional freeze on gun violence research.
  • Extend mental health services to everyone who needs them.

The Sandy Hook massacre was one of seven mass shootings in the United States in 2012.

Gun violence in the U.S. claimed about 10,987 homicides victims per year from 2007 to 2009, according to the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime.

In 2010, according to the NRA, Americans owned about 270 million firearms.  For a population of about 314 million, that’s more than 85 guns per 100 residents–by far the highest rate of any country in the world.

The only “solution” the NRA offers to reduce gun violence in the United States is to turn the country into a nation of gunslingers.

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