NRA comes out fighting against gun restrictions
A week after 20 children and six of their teachers were murdered in their classrooms, the National Rifle Association, the nation’s biggest gun lobby, offered what critics denounced as a paranoid, apocalyptic remedy: posting armed police officers in every school in the United States.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre told a news conference in Washington.
LaPierre spoke shortly after the nation paused for a moment of silence to remember the time, a week before, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza stormed into the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and opened fire with a military assault rifle his mother had purchased legally.
While President Barack Obama and many lawmakers have vowed to make it harder for criminals and the mentally unstable to get their hands on guns like the one Lanza used, LaPierre and NRA offered a drastically different alternative, one in which American schools would be turned into armed camps to await “the next Adam Lanza” who is “planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment.”
LaPierre claimed efforts to make American schools gun-free zones did not protect children but instead made them more vulnerable.
“Politicians pass laws for gun-free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them,” he said. “In doing so they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”
LaPierre suggested last week’s bloodbath would have been averted had there been an armed guard or had teachers been packing weapons.
He said: “You know, five years ago, after the Virginia Tech tragedy, when I said we should put armed security in every school, the media called me crazy. But what if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook elementary school last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified, armed security? Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 little kids – that 26 innocent lives – might have been spared that day?”
LaPierre said putting guns in schools is long overdue.
“Why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect the president of our country or our police but bad when it’s used to protect our children in our schools?” he asked.
LaPierre also sought to place blame for the US’s violent culture on the entertainment industry.
“Here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: there exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people,” he said, blaming violent video games and slasher films for desensitising people to violence.
“In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilised society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behaviour and criminal cruelty right into our homes,” LaPierre said.
He was interrupted by two protesters who were able to sneak into the news conference despite intense security at the hotel ballroom where LaPierre spoke. One of the demonstrators held a sign that read: “NRA Killing Our Kids”.
LaPierre said former congressman Asa Hutchison, an Arkansas Republican, will head an NRA group that will devise a security plan for schools that would rely on armed volunteers. But he also called on Congress “to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school in this nation”. There are about 100,000 schools in the US.
LaPierre accused “the press and the political class here in Washington” of being “so consumed by fear and hatred of the NRA and America’s gun owners that you’re willing to accept a world where real resistance to evil monsters is a lone, unarmed school principal left to surrender her life to shield the children in her care”.
He refused to take questions.
Gun control advocates denounced what they described as bizarre and insensitive remarks. “Their press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country,” said New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken proponent of tighter gun control.
Four people died on a Pennsylvania highway yesterday when a gunman shot dead three people and later was killed in a shootout with police, authorities said. The incident happened in Frankstown township, 160km east of Pittsburgh.