In a new video entitled “Everyone Gets a Gun,” NRA commentator Billy Johnson this week dishes on his view of guns and education in America, comparing the two and drawing on some startling comparisons and thought-provoking contrasts in our nation’s schools as balanced against gun laws.
In the four-minute video, which begins with a disclaimer that Johnson’s commentary “does not necessarily” reflect the larger organization’s views, Johnson proposes that schools be mandated to introduce a curriculum that forces kids to learn shooting skills, as part of his tongue-in-cheek suggestion for “gun required zones.”
Johnson argues that labor policies, the public parks department and other government programs “protect access to something,” but for one of the most important policies, a constitutional right, we “write a policy designed to limit access.”
We don’t have a U.S. gun policy, we have a U.S. anti-gun policy… But what would happen if we designed gun policy from an assumption that people need guns, that guns make people’s lives better?
“As a country we have an education policy. Imagine if that policy was about limiting who has access to public education,” Johnson starts out by saying. “I mean, let’s be honest, the danger in educating people to think is that they might actually start to think for themselves. Perhaps we should think seriously about who we give access to knowledge. They could use it to do a lot of damage.”
Johnson muses about his idyllic world – one in which the government plays an active part in educating all citizens from an early age on the value of guns.
“Gun policy driven by people’s need for guns would seek to encourage people to keep and bear arms at all times. Maybe it would even reward those who do so. What if instead of gun free-zones we had gun-required zones?” Johnson asks.
Amanda Marcotte, from Slate.com, offers a chastising opinion:
Johnson stops short of suggesting that the government should subsidize AK ownership for men who don’t currently have enough money to properly terrorize suburban moms at the local Chipotle, but he does recommend public schools as an excellent place to find a captive audience for this everyone-gets-a-gun mentality.
“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,” Johnson says. “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.”
This entire video should serve as a reminder that while the NRA holds itself out as a “rights” organization, it has ties to the gun industry, which is more interested in making money than anything else. In a major investigation in 2013, the New York Times found that “the firearms industry has poured millions of dollars into a broad campaign to ensure its future by getting guns into the hands of more, and younger, children.” Young people are much less interested in buying guns than the older generations, a trend that will seriously impact gun industry profits if it continues. Getting public schools to persuade children about the wonders of gun ownership sure sounds like a tantalizing way to improve gun sales.
Of course, Johnson isn’t dumb enough to think that we’re ever going to have mandatory gun training in schools. The whole proposal is clearly being offered as a thought experiment. Still, his provocation sends two very disturbing messages: Guns are a human necessity, and learning how to shoot a gun is as important as learning how to read. We already have 289 people getting shot every day in the United States. Imagine how much higher that number would be if we lived Billy Johnson’s dream.
AlterNet.org said Johnson’s video was “published as part of the NRA’s recent efforts to appeal to a younger and more diverse audience through its NRA News Commentator program and millennial-oriented NRA Freestyle online television network. The commentary videos have frequently featured bizarre and offensive content.”
As examples of that, AlterNet offered the following:
- A July 18 commentary referenced the Holocaust to promote the baseless fear that the government will confiscate lawfully held private firearms.
- A July 7 commentary claimed that laws regulating gun ownership are ” equally as unconstitutional” as Jim Crow laws.
- A June 30 commentary insisted that the media stop calling a man who used a gun to injure or kill 11 of his 19 victims during a May 23 rampage in Isla Vista, California, a “gunman” or “shooter” because several other people were killed and injured by means other than a gun during the attack.
- A May 30 commentary warned viewers of a “trick” where media figures “race to label anything with a gun as a shooting, because they know how much more attention they are going to get with that word.”
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