In case there's a monster in your burrito. Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

NRA Decides Good Guys With Guns Are Weirdos

Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg View. He was executive editor of the Week. He was previously a national affairs writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.
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"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said National Rifle Association chieftain Wayne LaPierre. Unless, apparently, the good guy with a gun is in Texas and obeying the state's open-carry law while hunting down some Mexican food or a cup of joe.

According to a May 30 post on the NRA website, exercising one's rights in such a manner is, well, a little weird.

It's hard to imagine where open-carry advocates got the notion that they must be armed and ready at every minute of the day. Perhaps LaPierre can provide a clue. Here is his threat analysis of life in the U.S., delivered in the days after the Newtown, Connecticut massacre:

The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters -- people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn't planning his attack on a school he's already identified at this very moment?

How many more copycats are waiting in the wings . . . . A dozen more killers? A hundred? More?

LaPierre has detailed the overwhelming threats Americans face from "terrorists, home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, 'knockout' gamers, rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse as a society that sustains us all."

Is it any wonder that open-carry advocates would fear going into a Chipotle or Starbucks without a loaded semi-automatic rifle to keep themselves safe from the horrors LaPierre so exhaustively describes?

Yet here is the NRA last week discouraging Texans from being on their guard at every moment.

Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.

Let's not mince words, not only is it rare, it's downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself.

Not practical? Downright weird? What's not practical about behaving like you're in a war zone in a land terrorized by monsters, robbers, rapists, shopping-mall killers, terrorists and -- well, it's a long list. Open carry in Texas represents precisely the world the NRA's leader has envisioned: a fully-armed, powder-keg democracy where anyone can kill at a moment's notice. It's heartening to learn the NRA doesn't really want that after all.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

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Frank Wilkinson at

To contact the editors on this story:
Frank Wilkinson at
Zara Kessler at