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Should ‘Put the NRA in its place’ plea include an apology to LaPierre?

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Yesterday’s Portland Oregonian profiled a science teacher-turned-gun control-advocate who was at Reynolds High School Tuesday when the shooting occurred, and he posted a lengthy message on Facebook detailing his newborn activism, and a proposal for gun control, but it omitted one important fact that is being largely overlooked by gun prohibitionists.

Wayne LaPierre was right. LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, told a sneering press corps 18 months ago that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, and that scenario played out at the Troutdale campus Tuesday.

The science teacher, Seth Needler, ended his Facebook post with this question: “Isn’t it time to put the NRA in its place? If not now, when?”

As the Portland Oregonian noted in a story about the quick response time of school resource officers that quoted Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton, “As soon as this happened, they were there in less than a minute. Had they not been there, it could have been a lot worse.”

Officers Nick Thompson and Kyle Harris confronted the teenage shooter, who retreated after shots were fired. He took his own life.

In Santa Barbara three weeks ago, gunman Elliot Rodger, who passed three California “universal background checks” and went through three waiting periods, was interrupted in his carnage when sheriff’s deputies arrived on scene. He traded shots with them, then took his own life.

There have been other confrontations between good guys and bad guys in the 18 months since Sandy Hook. A notable exception was Seattle Pacific University, where a good guy who at least knew about guns sacked a bad guy with a malfunctioning double-barrel shotgun and prevented him from committing further mayhem.

Needler, a Portland resident, said some things in his Facebook message that are certain to ignite considerable discussion among Northwest gun rights activists. For example, he wrote, “I don’t blame this on a mentally unhinged youth, although that might be what it was, or on lax security, or even on society’s general decline. This was a case, like all the other recent school shootings, of gun violence due to lax gun regulation, and the proliferation of military assault weapons in the hands of everyday citizens.

“I’m sick and tired of hearing gun enthusiasts claim that any kind of gun regulation is an attack on the second amendment,” Needler wrote, “or that the solution to gun violence is more guns. I completely fail to understand how one organization, which is the lobbying arm of one industry, can control every politician in Congress to the extent of preventing any action at all on gun control, even after polls show that 90% of Americans are in favor of it.

“Why can’t the U.S. have more gun control,” he wonders. “Apparently we have some now, but it obviously isn’t enough when any individual who wants one and can get the cash together can buy any gun that exists.

“Here’s my proposed gun regulation,” Needler suggests. “To buy a gun, you need 3 letters of recommendation: One from a family member, one from a friend, and one from a co-worker. If your family doesn’t trust you, you have no friends, and your co-workers don’t know you well enough to trust you, then you shouldn’t be able to own a gun. I also think prospective gun owners should have to undergo a rigorous gun-safety training, submit to a background check, and meet an age limit…”

Needler is a science teacher, not a history or government teacher. But when he told the newspaper, “I’m not a gun control activist. I just think something should be done,” it has something of a ring of incredulity.

At the Seattle Guns forum today, activists are talking about how good guys with guns stopped a bad guy with guns. The discussion is headlined “Armed Guards Ended School Shooting in Oregon.” The prevailing opinion seems to suggest that LaPierre’s observation was spot-on.

Earlier this week, the Yakima Herald reported how some school administrators in Toppenish were going to be carrying guns this fall. They are not the only school officials in the country to be planning that, or at least giving it serious thought.

While nobody is likely to credit the NRA’s top gun with the idea, they should at least acknowledge that their actions, and the events of last Tuesday in Oregon, prove he was right all along. That might be asking too much.

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