Thursday, January 17, 2013

The NRA’s Attack Ad Targets The President’s Kids

So the NRA has countered the President’s wise gun violence reduction legislative proposals and executive orders with an interesting video.  See here:

First, let me point out the negative attack ad that this is.  How very typical of the NRA, with their anti-Obama propaganda and agenda.  But now they’ve sunk so low as to try to use his children for political purposes.

Furthermore, where the President and gun violence prevention groups are working in a positive manner to reduce the violence (What can we do to keep guns out of the wrong hands?), the NRA prefers instead to work in a negative manner (What can we do to kill the “bad guy with a gun”?).  It has only hurt the NRA’s approval rating.

But even beyond these points, the video is a pro-gun fantasy run amok.  Let’s step back for a moment from the poisonous air of the video and take some reality checks:

Reality check #1:  The children of the President of the United States require stronger protection because of obvious reasons (risk of kidnapping or assassination due to their father being a world leader), which clearly is different from the children of the average citizen.  If the average citizen really thinks that their kids run the same risk as Sasha and Malia Obama, then they are deluding themselves.

Reality check #2:  The Secret Service detail for the President’s children are not the same as some local yokel "volunteer" who has a conceal carry license and maybe a little bit of training, as suggested being used by LaPierre and Hutchinson in their little media spectacle, or "deployed" around schools by the extremist Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona (some of whom have police records).  IF there are armed guards at that school outside of the Secret Service (and I haven’t seen verification of whether they are armed), I imagine that they, too, are better trained.  (UPDATE: It turns out there AREN'T armed guards outside of the Secret Service. See the update below.)

Reality Check #3:  Yes, as many as one-third of schools already have armed guards, but for the most part those schools hired guards because of a demonstrated need due to incidents that occurred, not out of paranoid fear. 

Reality Check #4:  There’s no clear evidence that having armed guards has reduced the violence rate.  The vast majority of schools have never demonstrated a need, nor likely ever will demonstrate a need, for armed interference.  One report for armed schools in Mississippi reported that the guards engaged in “overly harsh school disciplinary policies,” unnecessary arrests, and racial prejudice.  Further, two different studies (HERE and HERE) have shown that armed guards in schools make students feel less secure, possibly affecting their performance.

Reality Check #5:  Having an armed guard at a school has never stopped a school shooting in the few instances where they've had a chance (such as Columbine).  It is almost impossible for an armed guard to be in the right place at the right time, in those few minutes when a shooting is actually taking place.

Reality Check #6:  Having an armed guard at a school only treats the symptom (stopping the "bad guy with a gun" - usually a kid who got it from his parents' closet -- only after they've gotten the gun), instead of treating the causes of the problem (easy access to guns and lack of safe storage, poor parenting, mental health problems).

I’ve posted on the lunacy of the NRA’s “armed schools” proposal before, but it’s clear that all the negative feedback from parent and teacher groups, school officials, and the general public hasn’t made  a difference in their extremist agenda.  From one article:
The American Federation of Teachers called the suggestion "irresponsible and dangerous," while the National Education Association described it as shocking and based on the "delusional assumption that everything other than guns contributes to these tragedies."
The general public has opened its eyes and can now see through the NRA exaggerations and lies, so the NRA and other gun lobbies are just digging themselves deeper into a rut with hate ads like this one.

ADDENDUM (1/18/13):  There is currently a petition, initiated by Carolyn McCarthy, demanding that the NRA stop running this ad and exploiting the children of the President.

ADDENDUM (1/18/13):  Here is a great article, written by the granddaughter of President Eisenhower, Susan Eisenhower, who had a Secret Service detail of her own while her grandfather was President.  Read how she slams the NRA for this shameless attack ad.  From her article:

For the eight years that my grandfather, Dwight Eisenhower, was president of the United States, I had Secret Service protection. Known as the “Diaper Detail,” these armed agents protected my sisters, brother and me from potential kidnappings or other targeted attacks. Such threats might be aimed at hurting us, but they would also strike a devastating blow to the president and possibly our national security. 
I repeat: We had Secret Service protection because we were seen as potential targets. 
That’s why any thinking person has to be disgusted by the National Rifle Association ad released Wednesday, suggesting that the president is an “elitist hypocrite” because his children have the benefit of armed protection at school and the nation’s children as a whole do not. This is absurd. The nation’s children are not individually at risk the way the Obama children are.
UPDATE (1/20/13):  It turns out that there are no armed guards hired by the school where the President's kids attend.  Oopsie!  The NRA might have wanted to do a tiny bit of fact-checking first.  From a Washington Post article:

In fact, it has no armed guards. My Post colleague Glenn Kessler, who writes The Fact Checker column, wrote about the issue here and quoted Ellis Turner, associate head of Sidwell Friends, as saying: “Sidwell Friends security officers do not carry guns.”
Parents and students say they have never seen one either. 
The president’s children are protected by Secret Service agents, which is required by federal law, but that is not the same thing as armed school resource officers. 
The Fact Checker, who hands out “Pinocchios” depending on how accurate — or inaccurate — a particular story is, gave the NRA and its ad the worst possible rating, four Pinocchios. Whereas three Pinocchios are given for “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions,” four Pinocchios are given for “whoppers.”

UPDATE (1/25/13):  An NRA senior lobbiest, Jim Baker, says the attack ad was "ill advised."  Ya think?  From an article:

Jim Baker, head of the federal affairs division at the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said he had made his views known to others at the powerful gun-rights organization. 
The ad, which cast Obama as hypocritical for having expressed skepticism about putting armed guards in schools, when "his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools," drew widespread criticism when it first became public on January 15. 
Nationwide outrage over the shooting of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14 moved gun violence and gun control to the center of the U.S. political debate. 
"I don't think it was particularly helpful, that ad," Baker told Reuters in a telephone interview. "I thought it ill-advised."