There was what amounts to an empty chair at the National Rifle Assn.'s long-awaited press conference Friday, in which the organization unveiled its response to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Magnum-forceBut the vacant seat was occupied not by Clint Eastwood, but rather his screen alter egos, particularly Dirty Harry.

"Angry NRA Chief Blames Anything But Guns for Massacre" read the headline on, neatly summing up the content and tone.

The key line, though, was when NRA chief Wayne LaPierre said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," reinforcing the argument that just one gun out there in the hands of someone who knows how to use it — a.k.a. Dirty Harry — will solve everything.

It's certainly an appealing thought, and one that has been drummed into our heads through years and years of violent movies, especially those with a cathartic vigilante hook. The problem is the NRA seemingly stopped watching Eastwood's filmography before he got to titles like "Unforgiven" and "Gran Torino," which offered a different take on violence and the horrors of killing somebody — or being killed by someone with a gun.

LaPierre did reference some movies and videogames in his remarks, but he conveniently left out the fictional characters being used to buttress the NRA's argument and protect its position.

Call it an empty chair, but not — never — and empty holster.


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