The NRA’s Modest Proposal

Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President

Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President

My friend Rachel Kranz has been forwarding me messages tweeted in response to NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre calling for Congress to  “act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation.” This to prevent further Newtown-style massacres. She says the occasion calls for a post on Swift’s “Modest Proposal.”

“Modest Proposal,” of course, is the quintessential example of a deliberately outrageous proposal designed to make a satiric point. As I’m sure you know, the proposal is to serve up 100,000 of Ireland’s babies as food. The modest proposer elaborates,

A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends, and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt, will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

In his essay, Swift has imagined a metaphorical devouring as a literal one: “I grant this food will be somewhat dear,” the proposer writes, “and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.”

The proposer is aware that his idea will be controversial. He reasonably points out, however, that no one has listened to his more moderate suggestions. Hence his need to push the envelope.

Of course, the difference between Swift and LaPierre is that Swift is being satirical. LaPierre, on the other hand, literally believes that America is a wild west horror show where everyone who doesn’t carry a gun is going to be gunned down. Or rather, he knows that promoting such a vision is very good for gun sales, which is his primary concern.

Anyway, here are some of the tweets that Rachel forwarded. I’ve set them up so that they start by pointing to flaws in the NRA’s reasoning, move on to reasonable counter-arguments, and then conclude with Modest Proposal-like suggestions:

@MMFlint: My answer:there were two armed guards at Columbine the day of the massacre. At Fort Hood massacre I think there was lots of army w/ guns.

@olivierbusquet: In 08 and 09 more kids/teens died from guns in the US (5,740) than US military personnel killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan (5,013)

@bonafidechicken: One guy tries to use a shoe bomb = Everyone at the airport takes their shoes off. 31 school shootings since Columbine = no changes.

@eliyudin: If someone wants to steal my bike, they will steal my bike. But I still lock it, because I want it to be as DIFFICULT AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE.

@robdelaney: If your response to calls for gun control is “Should we get rid of cars too?” the answer is, for you, yes. You should not have a gun or car.

@OlaBetiku: After Trayvon Martin was shot, I don’t remember the NRA saying that every black teenager should go out and get a gun for protection…

@ChaseMit: Just want to point out the NRA’s plan to stop school shootings is literally the plot of Kindergarten Cop.

@YellowDogDerek: Has the NRA said that if only the kindergarteners had guns they could have taken out the gunmen yet?

@sethmeyers21: NRA: If we banned schools there would never be another school shooting.

@michaelianblack: When somebody shoots up a dentist’s office, they’ll be advocating for armed dental hygienists.

@dhothersall: In #NRA HQ there are no fire extinguishers, just flamethrowers behind every door, with a sign saying “In case of fire, fight back!”

Feel free to pass on any smart responses you’ve encountered or have come up with yourself. We can all be Modest Proposers.


Previous posts on the Sandy Hook massacre

Lamentation and Weeping in Newtown

Love Saith, “Be with Me Where I Am”

Songs of Innocence Destroyed

Why (Some) Americans Love Guns

Where Was God During Sandy Hook?

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