WASHINGTON, DC - In an effort to staunch the continuing violence in Iraq, the White House has announced plans to send a team of special NRA advisers to Baghdad in the coming weeks. These teams will work with local law enforcement and citizens' groups to stress the importance of firearm ownership as a means to maintain security, conduct firearm safety courses and lobby the Iraqi Parliament to ensure that no bans or limitations on weapon ownership are considered.
"We stand at a unique and critical juncture," read a statement released on Friday, "for providing the Iraqi people their best and surest chance at peace. The National Rifle Association - long advocates of the responsible ownership and use of firearms here at home - will be bringing their message of safety and security to a place where it truly needs to be heard."
NRA President Sandra S. Froman was thrilled by the challenge this opportunity presented to her organization. "We've always known that America would be a stronger and safer country if only more people would keep and bear arms. Iraq is facing a dire time and we believe that an increase in the number of weapons - coupled with quality firearms education - will help usher in a brighter tomorrow."
In addition to advice and training, the NRA is also negotiating with several arms manufacturers and the US Government to provide "handguns, rifles, shotguns and ammunition sufficient that every Iraqi over the age of 14 might be armed for their own protection, the protection of their homes and the protection of their communities."
While not one of the recommendations offered by the Iraq Study Group, President Bush feels that this plan could materially improve the situation on the ground in Iraq. "It's hard for me to imagine that the insurgents are going to want to carry out many more of their cowardly attacks knowing that everyone around them is armed," explained Mr. Bush. "I mean think about it, would you want to be fooling around with your neighbor's wife if you knew he was packing a big ol' 44? I didn't think so."
Seemingly please with his crass and clumsy analogy, Mr. Bush went on to say that he would instruct the DoD to work with the NRA to set up, staff and maintain weapons distribution sites around the country. "I truly believe that by providing free access to weapons and ammunition, we will make Iraq a safer country - for the people of Iraq and for our own brave men and women serving there."
Michael K. Beard, the president of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, did not share the President's hopeful assessment. "If anything," he said, "I think that an increase in the number and availability of weapons in Iraq will only serve to increase the level of violence there. We, as thoughtful and freedom-loving people need to question the logic of this proposed action on the part of President Bush and the NRA."
As word of the plan reached the streets of Baghdad, the response was mixed. While no one interviewed was comfortable giving their names, several said that the country was already awash in weapons and more would have no net impact of the security situation. One man, holding a rusted handgun, said he'd appreciate the chance to get a "bigger, better gun."
Scheduled to begin in early January, the response of NRA members across the country has been overwhelmingly positive, said Ms. Froman. "People are just so excited that there is finally something they can do to help. I'm so proud to be a part of this wonderful and farsighted effort."