NRA, Health Dept. Advocate New Public Health Policy: Hunt Fat People
Washington, DC (AP) – The incoming Obama administration has already put forward an ambitious new plan, developed with the National Rifle Association, to combat worrisome obesity trends, and it also signals a breakthrough on gun control legislation.
Long a public health issue, obesity in America has never been more prevalent; a CDC study released in August found that not a single US state had less than a 20% obesity rate, with Southern states averaging more than 35%. Many of those states support lax gun control measures, a fact that signaled opportunity to outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius.
“It became clear to me, especially after the Newtown massacre, that we need to find a way to work with the gun lobby,” she said at a press conference. “Guns are a public health issue, no question – and we need to engage the gun industry in our efforts to keep America living well.” They key, said Sibelius, was getting the NRA’s agreement on strict gun control measures in exchange for open season on obese people, of which there are now more than 78 million across the country, according to CDC statistics.
“It’s a win-win situation,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. “Everyone understands the value of free access to firearms – it’s one of our basic rights as Americans. But we at the NRA also understand that our future as a free nation is just as threatened by the lumbering, flabby dweebs who put such a strain on public resources,” he remarked.
“We believe law-abiding American gun owners and users will welcome this minor inconvenience,” he continued. The new policy “puts paid the notion that the firearms industry and its allies are incapable of compromise.”
Under the program, a pilot will first be conducted in several suburban areas with a high concentration of fast food establishments. State and local health authorities will be tasked with tagging the obese with identifying markers. Tranquilizer guns will be made available for this phase, but Sebelius expects them not be necessary in most cases. “What are they going to do, run away?” she asked with a chuckle, noting the tens of millions of dollars that would be saved in diabetes-related treatments alone.
LaPierre found particular virtue in a provision of the legislation allowing the use of armor-piercing bullets on the obese. “It’s very important that we secured that right,” he stated, and said that the NRA found any restrictions on the bullets problematic, but was willing to go along with limitations on their use in other contexts. “There will be plenty of opportunity to exercise our Second Amendment rights with whatever ammunition we desire, as long as we target only the legitimately obese – and let’s face it, they make sweet targets.”
The proposal is not without administrative and legislative hurdles. The food and beverage industry may be loath to see its prime customer base drastically reduced, but lobbyists have said they might be willing to accept some population reduction, given that obesity is a growth industry. The extent of the industry’s flexibility on the issue has yet to be tested.
Of similar concern is the number of obese Americans in possession of guns, a statistic that might complicate implementation of the policy. LaPierre has suggested giving hunters an advantage via a return to the NRA’s original core endeavor, training Americans in marksmanship and the proper use of firearms, with emphasis on tactics that require mobility and a capacity to hide behind objects smaller than a standard golf cart.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did not return several phone calls requesting comment.
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