NRA asks an impossible question – but I have an answer anyway

Wayne LaPierre is in the headlines again after making the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows. I have better things to do than watch Sunday morning talk shows, but I did take 20 minutes last night to watch his now-infamous press conference — and I couldn’t help but notice that LaPierre asked one question that doesn’t have a good answer:

Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away… or a minute away?

Obviously, it’s impossible to answer this question in any meaningful way, because minutes and miles are different units of measurement — imagine paying for a banana in light-years — but I’m going to give it my best shot (pun intended) anyway.

Assuming school zone speed limits, LaPierre clearly prefers the minute option to the mile. Under his plan, there would be no new restrictions on guns of any kind — and that wouldn’t be a problem, because an armed security guard would be no more than a minute away from stopping ever crazed gunman who decided to bring a semi-automatic to school.

I’m going to ignore for a minute all the obvious problems with his position — what if the guard doesn’t succeed? what if the guard is the bad guy with a gun? — and instead focus on what LaPierre is inadvertently telling us.

The position allows for a very simple calculation: according to ABC News, the type of gun Lanza used has “an effective firing rate of 45 shots per minute.” Forty five shots per minute, over one minute, translates out to roughly — and feel free to double-check my math here — forty five shots. And that’s on the low end, before the security guard has a chance to interfere, or anything else has a chance to go wrong.

45 shots per minute, over one minute: forget “effective firing rate.” The NRA just defined the “acceptable firing rate”* — and I think you’ll agree, it definitely sounds a lot safer than an assault weapons ban.


*And by rate, I mean amount, but let’s not ruin a perfectly good parallel.


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