NRA calls for armed guards in schools
The powerful US gun rights lobby went on the offensive today arguing that all schools should have armed guards, on a day that Americans remembered the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre with a moment of silence.
Speaking a week after 28 people, some as young as six years old, were killed by a heavily armed 20-year-old man who attacked the elementary school with an assault rifle.
The National Rifle Association broke its silence today on last week’s shooting saying it had refrained from comment "out of respect for those grieving families, and until the facts are known."
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said Wayne LaPierre, NRA chief executive, noting that banks and airports are patrolled by armed guards, while schools typically are not.
His remarks - in which he charged that the news media and violent video games shared blame for the second-deadliest school shooting in US history - were twice interrupted by protesters who unfurled signs and shouted "stop the killing". About 50 pro-gun-control protesters rallied outside the downtown Washington hotel where the NRA held its event.
Speaking in Washington, Mr LaPierre urged politicians to station armed police officers in all schools by the time students return from the Christmas break in January. Mr LaPierre did not take questions from reporters.
The comments drew a sharp response from gun-control advocates. New York city mayor Michael Bloomberg accused the NRA of "a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country".
"They offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe," he said.
Another mass shooting occurred on Friday when a gunman killed three people and wounded three police officers before taking his own life in Frankstown Township, Pennsylvania, the Altoona Mirror reported, citing the county prosecutor.
Earlier today, church bells rang out in tree-lined suburban Newtown and up and down the East Coast in memory of the victims of the attack.
To remember the school massacre, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy observed a moment of silence with mourners at and governors from Maine to California asked residents of their states to observe similar moments.
The attack shattered the illusion of safety in Newtown, a close-knit town of 27,000 people where many residents know someone affected by the attacks.
Some residents have already launched an effort aimed at tightening rules on gun ownership. The newly formed group calling itself 'Newtown United' held a third meeting this week aimed at developing a strategy to influence the gun debate.