WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The National Rifle Association is finally speaking out one week after a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., left 26 people dead, including 20 children.
During a press conference Friday, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre says these people might still be alive today if school personnel were armed when 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said.
LaPierre says that the lack of mental health reform and the prevalence of violent video games and movies can lead to these types of tragedies.
“In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes,” LaPierre said.
He is calling on Congress to put armed security in every school across the nation.
“When it comes to our most beloved and vulnerable members of the American family – our children – we as a society leave them utterly defenseless,” LaPierre said, adding that doing this will immediately make America’s schools safer.
“We must act now,” LaPierre stated.
LaPierre announced that former Congressman Asa Hutchinson will be the national director for the NRA’s National School Shield Emergency Response Program. It will be a security program offered to schools across the U.S.
“Armed, trained, qualified school security personnel will be one element of that plan, but by no means the only element,” Hutchinson said. “If a school decides for whatever reason that it doesn’t want or need armed security personnel, that of course is a decision to be made by parents at the local level.”
Hutchinson said that this program won’t require funding by the federal government because local volunteers will be used.
LaPierre refused to take any questions after speaking. Still, though security was tight, two protesters were able to interrupt LaPierre’s speech, holding up signs that blamed the NRA for killing children. Both were escorted out, shouting that guns in schools are not the answer.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter called the NRA’s plan of wanting to arm every school “ludicrous.”
“That message was an insult to the lives of those children,” Nutter told Philly.com. “That we would face the prospects of shootouts in our schools, and utilize the precious and declining resources in public education to put armed personnel in every school is insane.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie echoed that sentiment, saying posting armed guards outside classrooms won’t make classrooms safer or encourage learning.
Christie stopped short of commenting directly on the proposal by nation’s largest gun-rights lobby, which he hadn’t yet read.
The governor has also called for a thoughtful dialogue on gun violence, mental illness and exposure to violent video games.
Since last week’s school shooting, President Barack Obama has demanded “real action, right now” against U.S. gun violence and called on the NRA to join the effort. Moving quickly after several congressional gun-rights supporters said they would consider new legislation to control firearms, the president said this week he wants proposals on reducing gun violence that he can take to Congress by January.
Obama has already asked Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and pass legislation that would end a provision that allows people to purchase firearms from private parties without a background check. Obama also has indicated that he wants Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity magazines.
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