I have the day off, getting ready for a weekend of family celebration and fun. While running errands this morning, I was stopped cold in my tracks when I passed a TV and saw a “special report” breaking into regular programming, as the TV stations carried a remembrance and moment of silence for the 27 kids and teachers slaughtered last week in Newtown, Connecticut. I stood there next to a lady and her daughter as it started. The daughter was a beautiful young girl who had to be around the same age as the innocent 1st graders who were gunned down last week. As the moment of silence began, the television carried a loud bell chiming 27 times, once for each life lost. With each chime came a picture of the victims…27 times…in alphabetical order, until the last, a 6-year old Allison Wyatt, was shown. Miss Wyatt looked remarkably similar to the young girl standing next to her mom, and the already flowing tears of the mom next to me turned into a full-body sobbing as the last bell chimed, and the TV lingered on this last victim. I’m a guy, so I’m not supposed to react that way in public, right? While I managed to suppress the full-body sobbing of the mother next to me, I also had tears on my face as the moment ended and they resumed normal programming. I’m sure that any parent with a young child felt the same at that moment. I would hope ANY human being felt the same at that moment.
Just a little later in the morning, National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre provided the NRA’s first public statement after the massacre of a week ago. LaPierre, as noted by NBC, took a “defiant” tone, stating that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun“. I’m sure the 20 families with children slain in Newtown took comfort in LaPierre’s statements. I’m sure that family of Allison Wyatt and the other beautiful young children feel comforted to know that the NRA is working to solve the problem by recommending armed guards at every school across the nation. I’m sure that families of gun violence victims across the nation take heart in the notion that the NRA will be fighting the evil media, Hollywood, and the music industry, the TRUE perpetrators of the culture of violence in the United States, according to Mr. LaPierre.
After all, it’s not the GUNS that perpetuate a violent gun-based culture in the U.S., right? It’s not groups like the NRA that perpetuate gun violence, right? There’s no blame to be assigned to the NRA’s insistence that private citizens have the same access to weapons of mass destruction as do our military soldiers, right? No! Of course not! Don’t be silly!! It’s an evil media misrepresenting the NRA and a gun-based culture! It’s Hollywood sensationalizing the USE of the weapons that the NRA endorses! It’s popular music that glamorizes gun violence that results in freely available semi-automatic weapons being used to gun down 20 children in the span of a few minutes!!
It was quite the stark contrast this morning, seeing the incredibly moving remembrance of the Sandy Hook victims, and just a little bit later, hearing the incredibly callous and out-of-touch comments from NRA’s LaPierre.
Bear with me for a moment as I get to my point here, but…I’m a scientist. A large part of my job is communicating the work of my team with outside scientists and other potential users of our research and data. When I was in high school and early in college, I was scared to death to speak in public. The turning point for me? Experience, especially after becoming a teaching assistant in grad school, but a large part of the turnaround for me was also seeing first-hand that the biggest BLOWHARDS, those who sometimes seem to be the confident with other people, are, in actuality, the most insecure (and the most full of shit). I’ve said it out here many times…it’s those folks that are incredibly insecure, those that are the LEAST sure of themselves, who are also often the ones who feel the need to brag…to gloat…to ACT “confident” in public.
Hence my analogy to the average NRA “member” above. Disgusting display by Mr. LaPierre today, but it’s nothing new to the insecure, out-of-touch nuts that populate the NRA. If guns are a big part of your life…you’re definitely compensating for “shortcomings” somewhere else in your life.