Less than two weeks after the horror of Newtown, Conn., we know that if there is going to be a rational conversation about gun violence in America, it will have to take place without gun rights advocates. They have apparently decided to go full-out crazy and hope that everyone just leaves them alone.

Setting the tone was National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, who declared that tragedies like Newtown are the result of a complicated intersection of societal factors. But the one thing that has absolutely nothing to do with gun violence, he said, is guns.

LaPierre told the assembled media that the real culprit is the media, particularly the people who make violent movies. (That’s why the NRA will be pushing a new bumper sticker: “Guns don’t kill people. Movies about people with guns kill people.”)

LaPierre said the solution would be to put an armed guard in every school, claiming that “the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

It’s so simple, I can’t believe that I missed it. The murder of 26 innocents in Newtown, Conn., was a case of too few guns in a school. The thing that would have prevented this disaster was an armed guard — like they had at Columbine.

This is not just a national phenomenon, however.

Maine’s gun rights community is also pulling out of the rational discussion and opting for a best-defense-is-a-good-offense strategy, apparently hoping to shoot their way out of this tight spot.

Leading the charge is Rep. Brian Duprey, R-Hampden, who has proposed taking LaPierre’s idea a step further and arming Maine teachers. Now instead of just one trained armed guard, we could have about 30, all shooting from different angles.

Yes, when teachers aren’t making up for the breakdown of the American family and other social ills, they can find time to qualify themselves as marksmen. And if there’s enough time left over they can, you know, teach.

If Duprey’s name sounds familiar, it should. He is the same state representative who submitted a bill in 2005 that would prepare for a day when science isolates a “gay gene” that could be identified in the womb. If that were to happen, under Duprey’s proposed law, parents would have been prohibited from aborting the fetus to avoid having a gay child.

This bill did not pass, but it did bring people on all sides of the gay rights and abortion rights debates together to say, “What?”

The initial reaction to Duprey’s school safety bill had some of the same tone. “I would have to say that’s a terrible idea,” said Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck.

But being a terrible idea is not necessarily a bad thing in politics, and don’t be surprised if there is significant pressure on lawmakers to take a long look at the armed-educators bill. (Bumper sticker: “Guns don’t kill people. Teachers without guns kill people.”)

Duprey is not going to be a lone gunman on this grassy knoll. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, the state’s most powerful gun rights lobby, has not backed Duprey’s bill, but its executive director, David Trahan, wrote a column in the Maine Sunday Telegram (“Too many guns? No,” Dec. 23) calling for a thoughtful discussion about school shootings, including a consideration of an excessive focus on art education.

“Most new schools are designed and mandated to include an art budget,” he notes. “Perhaps we could suspend this provision until all schools have bullet-resistant doors.”

That’s right. “Guns don’t kill people. Too much decoupage and papier-mache kill people.”

Isn’t it strange that controlling guns is not considered a relevant response to a series of rampage shootings?

As Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson noted, the Bill of Rights is not a suicide pact. Freedom of speech exists alongside laws against libel and conspiracy. We believe in the free exercise of religion, but if, like the Aztecs, you want to practice human sacrifice, you’re out of luck.

We regulate machine guns without violating the Second Amendment. You can’t buy a rocket launcher or poison gas, even though they could be used for self-defense.

But despite a few conciliatory comments by pro-gun rights lawmakers in the wake of the Newtown massacre, the professional advocates are pulling out of any discussion that looks at access to high-capacity, military-style weapons as part of the problem.

Don’t worry about a rational discussion on gun violence — these guys aren’t talking.

Greg Kesich is the editorial page editor. He can be contacted at 791-6481 or at:

[email protected]


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