Time Magazine once named Vladimir Putin its Person of the Year over Benazir Bhutto. Since that time, Russia has been virtually non-existent from the world’s stage while Pakistan is where Bin Laden was killed. A thing quite unlikely to have happened under the watch of Bhutto.
In 2012, Time Magazine named Pres. Barack Obama its Person of the Year. Any year is appropriate for naming the leader of the United States the Person of the Year in theory, but the real truth is that there is just one person who”for better or for worse, has done the most to influence the events of” of the rather forgettable year of 2012.
Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the National Rifle Association.
Keep in mind that the Person of the Year need not be someone who has contributed to the world in a positive fashion. Hitler. Stalin. Khomeini. Ken Starr. George W. Bush. All were named Man of the Year by Time Magazine. None contributed to the world in any positive fashion whatever.
The Hall of Shame that is occupied by Hitler, Stalin, Khomeini, Starr and Dumbya needs to be joined by Wayne LaPierre. The National Rifle Association and its CEO contributed to the events of 2012 in America in a way that no other organization or person did. Let’s face it: historians are not going to look back on 2012 as a watershed moment in history like 1929, 1939 or 1989. In fact, 2012 is going to look especially meaningless in comparison to the shifting of the state of the world that took place in 2011. At least, Time Magazine got it right that year when they recognized a collective entity known as the Protestor as their Person of the Year. (Alas, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to overlook the impact of world events in 2011 by not even nominating the most resonant film of the year, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and, in an astonishing act of oblivious irony, award a silent movie its top honor!)
No great movements took place in the world, much less America, in 2012. The election was yet another exercise in power, corruption, lies and the fact that America’s richest 1% that John Boehner is going to such pains to protect are peopled by individuals capable of giving 30 million dollars to various Republican candidates yet apparently are too poor to pay their fair share of taxes. Let me repeat that in case you did not get it: John Boehner did everything he could to keep those with enough spare change to give 30 million dollars to Presidential candidates from having to pay more in taxes than those having to decide between buying food and Christmas gifts as he faced America and blamed Pres. Obama for pushing us over the fiscal cliff.
But even that pales in comparison to the influence that Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association had on events in 2012. Just how influential was the National Rifle Association and its leader, Wayne LaPierre, in 2012? Before the year was over, as of December 21st, there were sixteen incidents officially described as a “mass shooting” in 2012. These sixteen mass shooting events resulted in 88 deaths. It is worth noting that on the very same day that a man took an assault weapon into a school in Connecticut and murdered 20 children, a man in China attacked a school with a knife. While 22 of those schoolkids were wounded, not a single child was killed. So much for one of the favorite arguments of Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association: guns don’t kill children, people kill children. Yes, Mr. LaPierre, people do kill children. People with guns!
Mr. LaPierre, the NRA and just about everyone opposed to gun control have another favorite saying that I’m sure you have heard before: If guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will have guns. The underlying message of that homily is that crimes involving guns are more likely to be committed by those who obtained their weapons illegally than through legal means. The mass shootings that took place in 2012 bear the distinctive stamp of reality that links them to the long, bloody history of mass shootings that have taken place in America since 1982.
Since 1982, there have been 62 cases of mass shootings in America. Those identified as the killers in these cases were found to be in possession of 142 guns whether they actually used in the shooting spree or not. More than 75% of those 142 weapons were legally obtained. In other words, guns don’t need to be outlawed for outlaws to have guns. In fact, the evidence strongly suggests that if guns were outlawed, more than a few significantly serious outlaws would not have the weapons necessary to commit their crimes.
In 2012, the Do-Nothing Congress and the Do-Nothing President colluded to let 366 days pass without passing legislation that effectively improved the country in such a way that history will deem significant. Legislative gridlock combined with an utter lack of any politician armed with a progressive vision for the country turned 2012 into just another annual exercise in caretaking of the status quo.
The world of business and economics in America conspired to make 2012 yet another year in which seeking ways to eke out the biggest possible profit stamped out the spark of creative fire necessary to inspire inventive thinking that truly revolutionizes the world in a way that makes life better for the population. Gone are the days when investment in a crazy dream that improves life is a more popular choice than investment in making existing technology obsolete within two years in order to convince consumers they must upgrade or somehow be less than everyone else.
The year 2012 will be remembered, if it is remembered at all, as just another year dedicated to maintaining the status quo. Part of that status quo is the negative effect on this country of the influence of an organization dedicated to nothing less than the continual humiliation of America. Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, and all the various executives and supporters who buy into their lunacy that fewer guns means a more dangerous America and more guns means a safer America, inarguably and unquestionably had more influence on Americans in the year 2012 than a President so committed to maintaining his position in the middle of the road that the country’s voters were almost exactly evenly divided over whether he should be re-elected or replaced by a man who over the course of eight years had completely changed his views on every issue of substance to the complete opposite position he had previously held.
Time Magazine views a man with absolutely no vision for this country’s future as worthy of being the most influential person of 2012. Wayne LaPierre not only has a vision of where America should go, but that vision was violently revealed in an explosion of 16 mass shootings that took 88 lives. Without the influence of Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association and their one-issue focus and bottomless well of cash reserves, there might well be fewer politicians in office voting on gun control measures of the intellectual level of Texas State Representative Kyle Kacal. How many politicians who have the potential to vote on gun control legislation have been put there thanks in part to the support of Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association who share Kacal’s deeply anti-intellectual belief that “ping-pongs are more dangerous than guns…flat-screen TVs are injuring more kids today than anything“?
For the record, roughly 200 children were been killed by a TV set falling on them between 2000 and 2011. That number is less than twice the number of kids under the age of 13 who killed by guns in just 2011. As for injuries from ping pong balls…well, I suppose if you were to put one inside a gun and shoot it, then ping pong might be as dangerous as a bullet.
The point being that were it not for the inexplicable influence of an organization run by some of the most intellectually ungifted human beings on the planet, perhaps those in charge of protecting the children of this country from the quite specific danger of firearms (as opposed to the far more nebulous danger facing this country from video games, movies, music, ping pong balls and TV sets-all deemed a greater threat to your safety than guns by Wayne LaPierre) might be men and women with the ability to approach the legislation from the perspective of intelligent analysis rather than from the perspective of merely being acceptable to the NRA.
Were it not for the NRA and its decision to vote for politicians strictly on the basis of their position of being against any kind of gun control whatever, 2012 might have been a year in which Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut might have maintained their relative anonymity outside their respective geographic areas. Thanks to the influence of Wayne LaPierre, 2012 became a year in which Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman became household names. The influence of Wayne LaPierre and the role of the NRA on America’s election process means that 2012 became a year in which it was illegal for a mental health professional in Florida to ask a patient if he owns a gun as well as the genuinely startling fact that in 2012 Florida, and not Texas, became the first state to issue its one millionth concealed weapons permit.
For these reasons, I do hereby declare Wayne LaPierre to the person who “for better or for worse, has done the most to influence the events of the year.”