The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Citing academic literature, NRA calls for proliferation of weapons for children of all ages

January 16, 2013

The Canard

“All the fake news that’s fit to print”

I feel the need to makdraft_lens18664231module161805212photo_1347906993a--e a disclaimer here. If you think I am trying to get a tasteless laugh out of a tragic situation, you are incorrect. I have made my views about the gun lobby known here. In light of recent NRA proposals to place armed guards in every school in the country, real life is more farcical than this issue of the Canard. The point, it should be clear, is to illluminate the absurdity of the group’s position.

In the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut, the National Rifle Association is advocating a new alternative policy for prevent gun violence – the arming of children of all ages. Wayne LaPierre, spokesperson for the NRA, issued a statement declaring: “Bad guys will think twice about entering a school to hurt kids if they know the kids are packing too. I know America’s youth. They are not going down without a fight. Even kindergartners need to know the price of liberty. This is about the future of American democracy.”

The NRA is citing studies by prominent international relations academics who argue that the proliferation of weapons actually makes all safer. The absence of weapons, it is argued, invites aggression, whereas the presence of weapons serves to deter. They cite the profound peace and stability that currently exists in the Indian subcontinent as an example.

Gun advocates, however, are divided as to whether the nation’s toddlers should also be forced to carry their weapons concealed, or whether openly displaying them in their holsters will provide a more effective deterrent. One side argues that the greater certainty of the public display of firepower is a more effective way of dissuading would-be assassins, the other that the uncertainty of whether every kid has enough ammunition to blow up the school is more inclined to make assailants decide against engaging in an orgy of violence.

Other international relations academics, however, contest these findings argue that the nation’s youth is not yet developed enough to exercise effective command-and-control over their emotions and expressed concerns that accidental escalations might occur between kids over trivial incidents such as whether in fact Suzie has cooties. The NRA, however, contends that such logic is paternalistic and seeks to lock in a system of haves and have-nots that systematically privileges the nation’s adults. “Kids are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore,” said LaPierre.  “They have every right to defend themselves in their homes and in their schools. It is a breach of their second amendment rights to deny them that capability. We are asking for nothing less than what we would grant every other American.”

The gun lobby, however, is opposed by the nation’s bullies, who fear a disruption in the existing balance of power at school. They are supported by the teachers’ unions.

Reached for comment, Kenneth Waltz, one of the original proliferation optimists, disavowed the application of his theories about the international system to kids, calling it “perverse” and “reductionist.”

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Rathbun is a professor of International Relations at USC. Brian Rathbun received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 and has taught at USC since 2008. He has written four solo-authored books, on humanitarian intervention, multilateral institution building, diplomacy and rationality. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in International Organization, International Security, World Politics, International Studies Quartlery, the Journal of Politics, Security Studies, the European Journal of International Relations, International Theory, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution among others. He is the recipient of the 2009 USC Parents Association Teaching and Mentoring Award. In 2019 he will be recognized as a Distinguished Scholar by the Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association.