NRA CEO: Americans think it's 'crazy' not to put armed guards in schools
Published Sunday, December 23, 2012 11:36AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 23, 2012 11:40PM EST
The National Rifle Association reiterated its call for placing armed police officers and guards in every school in the U.S. on Sunday, insisting that it is not a far-fetched idea, but the best way to prevent shootings like the recent massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the largest U.S. gun rights lobbying organization, said the NRA would push Congress to pay for more school guards and would spearhead a national effort to install former military and police officers in schools as volunteer guards.
“If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," LaPierre said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press. "I think the American people think it's crazy not to do it. It's the one thing that would keep people safe."
During the interview, which aired on Sunday, LaPierre said he refused to support any new gun control legislation and argued that any new laws intending to regulate guns or ammunition would not prevent mass shootings as desired.
LaPierre’s comments came on the heels of his press conference on Friday, when the association finally broke its silence a week after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The Dec. 14 shooting claimed the lives of 20 young students, six adult staff members and the gunman’s mother, before shooter Adam Lanza killed himself.
LaPierre was widely criticized for his remarks at Friday’s press conference, including by some conservative media outlets. The New York Post blasted LaPierre’s statements with a front page story under the headline: “Gun Nut! NRA loon in bizarre rant over Newtown.”
The NRA plans include developing an emergency response program where volunteers would be gleaned from the group’s 4.3 million members to help guard the nation’s schools.
Former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson, an Arkansas Republican, has been named as the national director of the proposed school program.
Hutchinson said it should be up to local districts whether or not to have armed guards patrolling schools. He said the program would be similar to the one that places air marshals on planes, which he said has deterred hijackings and increased aviation safety.
"I've made it clear that it should not be a mandatory law, that every school has this. There should be local choice, but absolutely, I believe that protecting our children with an armed guard who is trained is an important part of the equation," he told ABC's "This Week."
LaPierre pointed to the Israeli model of school security as one the NRA would adopt.
"Israel had a whole lot of school shootings until they did one thing: They said 'we're going to stop it,' and they put armed security in every school and they have not had a problem since then," he said.
Since the shooting, Democratic lawmakers have openly called for stricter gun laws.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, promised to fight for renewed legislation banning certain assault weapons and limiting the number of bullets a gun magazine could hold to 10.
The NRA said the legislation is unacceptable, and LaPierre said that an assault-rifle ban is also ineffective.
“It hasn’t worked,” LaPierre said. “Dianne Feinstein had her ban and Columbine occurred.”
Republican leaders have not indicated that they will support any legislation to curb the types of guns and the capacity of gun magazines.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said that he had an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in his home. He also maintained that America would not be any safer if he were no longer allowed to buy one. And on the issue of gun magazine limits, Graham said he is able to reload his rifle quickly by putting in a new magazine.
"The best way to interrupt a shooter is to keep them out of the school and if they get into the school have somebody who can interrupt them through armed force," Graham said.
Sen. Charles Shumer, a New York Democrat who appeared with Graham on NBC, said he thinks even gun owners were surprised that LaPierre’s remarks didn’t include any additional gun regulation.
“He's turning people off. That's not where America is at and he's actually helping us," Schumer said.
With files from The Associated Press