DeStefano: NRA’s “Tone Deaf”

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano spoke for the nation’s cities Friday as soon as the National Rifle Association stopped talking. His message: You’ve got to be kidding.

DeStefano made his remarks in a statement circulated by the National League of Cities, over which he used to preside.

The statement was issued in reaction to a press conference held by the executive vice-president of the NRA, breaking the NRA’s silence in the aftermath of the Newtown school massacre. The NRA, which has dominated the political discussion and lawmaking in America on gun control, has found itself in the uncharacteristic position of defense; the massacre has led politicians of both parties to call for new gun-control measures. NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre offered his group’s response at the Friday press conference: It called for placing armed police officers in every school in the country. Guns weren’t to blame for the massacre in Newtown, he argued; the media and video games were. (Click here for Christine Stuart’s full account.)

The NLC released the following statement from DeStefano, who has been emerging as a national voice for increased gun control in Newtown’s wake:

“Today at 9:30 am all across Connecticut a moment of silence was held for the Newtown tragedy as a way to move forward. Unfortunately the National Rifle Association shortly thereafter held a press conference and used it as a time to look backward. Rather than contributing to the national conversation on the easy availability of high-powered weapons, the NRA ignored the overarching issue of gun violence in our communities and instead blamed everyone else—the media, the schools and now are following a line of logic that would have us arm our teachers.

“The NRA’s statements were tone deaf to the national mood and ignore the reality that this is not just a school shooting issue.  Every day in cities across this nation, residents wake up to media accounts of shootings, robberies and other issues involving guns. The nation has seen shootings in movie theaters and even on an Army base. 

“Our nation needs serious answers and today’s press conference had a very clear message—that the NRA doesn’t want to be part of a meaningful solution. The NLC looks forward to engaging on the issue and working to ensure a comprehensive effort to reduce violent acts.” 

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posted by: NoClovers on December 21, 2012  4:18pm

When those public servants calling for gun control give up their armed bodyguards. Stop selling guns and other arms to nearly every nation on earth, stop bombing/killing entire innoncent families in several countries around the globe, I may considering giving up any of mine. But then again the intent of 2nd amendment is to protect yourself from the government.

Gun free zones allow only criminals to carry guns and leave all others essentially defenseless. Remember when we outlawed drugs and it made drugs impossible to get your hands on….oh wait.

posted by: NoClovers on December 21, 2012  4:30pm

Dont get me confused with a supporter of the NRA, I believe like most large lobbying groups they have an agenda for themself. Gun Owners of America is a much more reasonable, honest voice for the 2nd Amendment and those who legally possess firearms in this nation.

posted by: Chip on December 21, 2012  6:30pm

In Dunblane Scotland, 1996, 16 elementary school children were slaughtered. It remains one of the worst criminal acts involving firearms in the history of the UK. As a result private ownership of handguns was made illegal in the UK. UK now has about 35 to 45 gun murders a year. The US has that any per day!. Japan has virtually eliminated shooting deaths with world’s strictest gun laws - avg about 2 deaths per year! On April 28, 1996, a gunman opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur, Tasmania. By the time he was finished, he had killed 35 people and wounded 23 more. It was the worst mass murder in Australia’s history. Australia announced a bipartisan deal with state and local governments to enact sweeping gun-control measures. A decade and a half hence, the results of these policy changes are clear: They worked really, really well- homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides and no mass shootings The drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent. Time for us to take same action!!! We can do this, too!  Chip Croft

posted by: Noteworthy on December 21, 2012  6:51pm

It would mean a lot more if DeStefano had a history of getting illegal guns off the streets and a body count I didn’t need a calculator to to add them all up. The NRA may be tone deaf, I’ll grant - but no more so than the guy who issued the statement when in 2011 he refused to take responsibility to a record number of murders all over the streets of New Haven.

posted by: nero on December 21, 2012  6:59pm

The NRA didn’t ” . . . [call] for placing armed police officers in every school in the country.”

The NRA called for “. . . a program that doesn’t depend on massive funding from local authorities or the federal government. Instead, it’ll make use of local volunteers serving in their own communities.”
  “Whether they’re retired police, retired military or rescue personnel,
I think there are people in every community in this country, who would
be happy to serve, if only someone asked them and gave them the
training and certification to do so.”

Just imagine a bunch of over-the-hill, trigger-happy vigilantes looking for trouble around your local school. Gee, my kids feel safer already.

posted by: David S Baker on December 22, 2012  9:13pm

“It’s not the media!  It’s those gun toting idiots!”, said the media. 

I admit, sixty rounds of man stopping power falls into the same category as hand grenades; completely unnecessary outside a war zone.  But, sadly, anybody who took high school chemistry knows that someone can do as much damage with one trip to the hardware store.

Fortunately the idea of hurting people makes most people sick to their stomachs.  Unfortunately a desperate or mental ill person might not have this instinct.  The same way some people can’t watch Pulp Fiction and treat it as Hollywood fodder rather than tough guy gospel. 

We can’t let the gun battle become the ENTIRE focus.  We have to admit to some degree that we have normalized violence and desensitized ourselves.  We have a degree of societal integration with the mentally ill that is noble but incompatible with this type of entertainment.  When the wrong mind interacts with the wrong elements things like THIS happen.  I think its time we acknowledge that the ways we entertain ourselves might ALSO be dangerous when interpreted by the wrong observer and the media MIGHT be slightly biased given focusing on these things is their bread and butter. 

Five articles on mental health and violence in media for every five on gun control would be a fair balance.  Right now I bet we are one in nine.

posted by: Adam E on December 23, 2012  10:36am

Chip, I think you are leaving out some key pieces of data here in your portrayal of these countries as poster children for the success of firearms bans: 

First of all, there is no denying that there have been very few gun deaths in these countries since the bans.  However, you need to realize that this was also true prior to the bans.  It is inaccurate to postulate that these bans drastically reduced homicides in these countries, simply because homicides/gun deaths were not especially prevalent to begin with.  The acts that prompted the bans were anomalous events, and in no way representative of crime prior to their enactment.  Moreover, the bans in Australia and the UK had little impact on the overall homicide rates in those countries (see England & Wales, Scotland & Australia). 

Second, there is a huge difference in banning guns in the UK/Australia and with doing so in the US.  There are an estimated 270M+ legally-owned guns in the US, a huge black market for firearms, and a population that to a large degree feels that guns are an inherent and protected part of its ‘culture.’  I don’t think we should do nothing, but purely from a practical standpoint of implementing such a policy, I don’t think that the model would fit in the US.

Probably the biggest move anybody could take towards curbing overall homicide rates in America would be to end the drug war, but I don’t see that one on the table yet…