[There was a video here]
You may have noticed that we have a school shooting problem. Well, not according to the NRA. But if we did have a school shooting problem, the NRA has a plan: Create "gun-required zones" and gun-welfare programs, and make weapons training "necessary to advance to the next grade" for Sally and Timmy.
That's the (potentially highly lucrative) proposal put forward by NRA News commentator Billy Johnson in his latest contribution to the gun group's slickly-produced stab at millennial outreach, the three-minute video above: "Everyone Gets a Gun."
Johnson wondered what gun policies the United States would have "if we designed gun policy from the assumption that people need guns — that guns make people's lives better." Johnson then made the following recommendations that would "encourage" and might "reward" people "to keep and bear arms at all times."
- Johnson wondered, "What if instead of gun free-zones we had gun-required zones?"
- He imagined a compulsory education system that would require children to become proficient with firearms, just like "reading and writing," even "if they didn't want to learn" in order to advance in school: "Gun policy driven by our need for guns would insist that we introduce young people to guns early and that we'd give them the skills to use firearms safely. Just like we teach them reading and writing, necessary skills. We would teach shooting and firearm competency. It wouldn't matter if a child's parents weren't good at it. We'd find them a mentor. It wouldn't matter if they didn't want to learn. We would make it necessary to advance to the next grade."
- Like "education, healthcare, food, [and] retirement," Johnson suggested that gun ownership be subject to a government subsidies, either through "government ranges where you could shoot for free or a yearly allotment of free ammunition."
Johnson concedes that his ideas might sound crazy, but IT IS YOU WHO ARE THE CRAZY ONES, and there are so many of you crazies that what is America anymore, even?:
Our Founding Fathers believed that we did need guns. That's why they codified our access to guns into the Constitution. But the idea of a gun policy that does justice to their intentions sounds ridiculous. What does that say about us? Even as Second Amendment advocates we can't fathom a world where we would treat guns as a need.
Set aside the gun-welfare idea (hey, where you at on food stamps and health insurance subsidies, NRA conservatives?) and the "gun-required zones" idea (we already have some; see also: "Idaho" and "the Texas Legislature"). Let's focus on the education idea for a minute.
As a kid who did some of the NRA's "Eddie Eagle" firearms curriculum growing up, and spent a lot of time on gun ranges through adolescence, I'm not opposed to the idea of broadly educating kids about gun safety in particular. I am nervous about delegating that responsibility to a curriculum provided by the NRA, which has already made itself the go-to organization for training government weapons instructors and gun-license applicants, to its own financial and political benefit. What might a society of NRA-trained, weapons-proficient schoolchildren look like?
But here's the thing: Even if you are a fan of the NRA and its proposal, you're conceding that you're not a libertarian. You're agreeing to what's been derided lately as a socialist viewpoint: that public education is a useful and desirable tool for advancing cultural agendas.
Which is great, because on that point, I totally agree! Let us never again hear pro-gun conservatives complain about educating schoolkids on the facts that gays and lesbians can be nice people; that environmental stewardship is a good idea; that skepticism of consumer culture and mass media, and the encouragement of critical thought and reading, aren't so bad either; that evolution is science, and religious accounts of human creation are not; and that the new math will not make you gay.
The NRA may object that those lessons were not codified in the Constitution by the founding fathers. So, yeah, maybe throw in some Common Core instructions on how to not quarter soldiers, along with tips for tallying up your slaves as three-fifths of full citizens for voting apportionment purposes.