How the NRA should respond
Updated: Sep 7, 2021
Wayne LaPierre flopped down on an exotic leather couch aboard the Illusion, a luxury superyacht owned by a friend and Hollywood film director David McKenzie. There was another horrific school shooting and, aboard the yacht and out to sea, he and his family would be safe and secure, away from multiple death threats against he and his family. The Illusion was a dependable safe haven, used often by the LaPierre family after Columbine, .... Sandy Hook, ...... Parkland, ...... Santa Fe, ....... on and on.
In addition to threats on his life, LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association (NRA) was also under enormous pressure to relent on the NRA's unwavering support of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, the public's right to bear arms. School shootings just kept happening and he needed a response to the ongoing massacres.
His friend, McKenzie, was furious with his initial response to this latest shooting, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." He said, "You have to come up with a solution Wayne, not a one-liner!"
LaPierre mentioned that the NRA had been discussing plans to develop a National School Shield Emergency Response Program, a “multifaceted” education and training program “available to every school in America free of charge.” They even selected former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) to lead the effort, and serve as its national director.
“School safety is a complex issue with no simple, single solution,” Hutchinson said in his brief public remarks. “But I believe trained, qualified, armed security is one key component among many that can provide the first line of deterrence as well as the last line of defense.”
McKenzie gave the idea some thought and said, "So, Wayne, let me get this straight, school safety is a complex and difficult problem to solve so all your'e going to do is make schools bullet proof. Is that your solution? You know, the gun control lobby uses the same kind of excuse, like 'school safety is a complex issue, so let's just take all guns away from everybody.'
Why don't one of you address the real problem, Wayne? Why is there an increasing trend of deranged boys and men slaughtering innocent children in our schools? How has our culture become so course, with such savagery against innocent life? Don't you understand, the public needs a solution and you should help find it!"
LaPierre felt a knawing in his stomach as McKenzie finished off his glass of wine, wished him well and left the boat as it departed for the open sea. There was a time, not that long ago, when a rifle could be mounted in the back window of an unlocked pick up truck and no one cared. Both men were left with one question on their minds "How has our country come to this?" Sleep did not come easy that night.
Early the next morning, with coffee in hand and through blurry eyes, LaPierre looked down at the coffee table to see the headline of an oped in the morning addition of the LA Times:
LA Times Op-Ed: We have studied every mass shooting since 1966. Here’s what we’ve learned about the shooters
For two years, Jillian Peterson and James Densley studied the life histories of mass shooters in the United States for a project funded by the National Institute of Justice. Here's what they found:
"First, the vast majority of mass shooters in our study experienced early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age. The nature of their exposure included parental suicide, physical or sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence ...... The trauma was often a precursor to mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, thought disorders, violence or suicidality."
Early childhood trauma. At risk kids becoming unstable adults. That's it!! That's the problem! LaPierre was determined to learn more and with further inquiry he discovered something called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and the ACE test, a simple 10 question test to determine traumatic experience in a person's life occurring before the age of 18 that the person remembers as an adult. These experinences are grouped into three categories:
The oped, the study and ACE's opened up a whole new world to La Pierre. The research demonstrated the relationship between childhood trauma and adult health and social outcomes. Adverse childhood experiences have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity.
LaPierre called McKenzie in Los Angeles. "David, Check this out. Here's the problem! I know this must sound strange to you, and it will to the NRA Board of Directors at first, but I have 5 million NRA members and over 15,000 affiliated clubs, associations and businesses throughout the country and they need to know more about ACEs in their communities."
McKenzie said, "Ok, now that we understand the problem, what is the solution? Is there is a program to reach and help kids and adults who've had a high score on their ACE test?"
(The NRA National School Shield is helping to secure schools, but the work to end mass shootings remains to be done. Reducing childhood trauma and improving the relationship between children and their parents is the key to ending school shootings. Future blogs will identify ACE community programs and what role communities and the nation, including Hollywood, can play in restoring our culture, and ending mass shootings, in the New World.)