NRA breaks silence on Newtown shooting, calls for armed guards in U.S. schools
Published Friday, December 21, 2012 8:47AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 21, 2012 9:30PM EST
One week after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults after opening fire in a Connecticut school, the National Rifle Association broke its silence by calling for armed police officers in every school in America.
It was the first time the controversial gun lobby organization spoke publicly since the Dec. 14 shooting at Newtown, Conn.’s Sandy Hook Elementary School that left a total of 28 people – including the shooter – dead.
As lawmakers and anti-violence advocates call for tougher gun control measures, the 4.3 million-member association is facing tough questions on gun violence. Many of the children killed in Newtown were shot multiple times and at close range by a high-powered rifle.
But executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre did not waver from the NRA’s anti-gun control stance Friday, instead calling on U.S. Congress to put more guns in schools in the form of security.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said.
He announced that former Rep. Asa Hutchison will lead an NRA program that will develop a model security plan that would see volunteers armed on school premises.
LaPierre refuted the notion that gun control legislation is needed following the Newtown shooting – one of the bloodiest in U.S. history.
He blamed video games, movies and music videos for glorifying violence, and also pointed the finger at the media for demonizing lawful gun owners and rewarding mass shooters with “wall-to-wall attention.”
As "some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectfully silent," LaPierre added.
Two protesters disrupted the press conference before being led away by security. One man held up a banner that said “NRA killing our kids.”
At a press conference later in the day, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein dismissed the NRA’s call for a blanket arming of authorities at schools as “nothing more than a distraction” from the need to address the prevalence of high-powered, high ammunition assault rifles in public areas.
Feinstein is set to introduce a ban on assault weapons next year. The same ban was introduced by Feinstein in 1993, but it expired 10 years later.
“The weapons today are much more powerful and lethal than the weapons were when we did this bill in 1993 and that’s a problem and the time has come to address it,” she said.
Echoing LaPierre’s words, Feinstein agreed that the government must have a “conversation” on mental illness and a culture of violence that may have contributed to the massacre, but said gun use must be addressed as well.
“We can’t ignore the common denominator in all of these deadly massacres -- easy access to killing machines,” she said.
Feinstein noted that a third of U.S. schools already have armed security staff, and pointed out that when two young men opened fire in Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, two law enforcement officers twice tried to engage the men.
“That didn’t prevent 15 from being killed and 23 wounded,” Feinstein said.
U.S. President Barack Obama has vowed for real action against gun violence, putting vice-president Joe Biden in charge of the effort to consider new firearm control legislation.
Hundreds of thousands of people have signed gun control petitions on White House website that allows the public to submit petitions.
The president has already asked Congress to reinstate Feinstein’s expired assault weapon ban, introduced in 1993. Obama has also called on Congress to pass legislation would require a background check on people purchasing firearms from private parties, and he has indicated he wants to pursue a limit on high-capacity magazines.
“I will do everything in my power to advance these efforts,” he said in a recorded video statement.
As is not uncommon after mass shootings, gun shops in the U.S. have reported higher sales since the incident.
As five more funerals were set to take place in Newtown Friday, a moment of silence was held across the United States to mark a week since 20-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot students, teachers and school employees before turning the gun on himself.
With files from the Associated Press