One week exactly after a horrific shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary claimed the lives of 20 children and half-dozen adults, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is imploring for guns in every school across America.
“I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school — and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January,” NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre said early Friday.
LaPierre addressed a room full of reporters in the nation’s capital seven days from the date after 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire in a rural Connecticut elementary school, killing 26 people while also rekindling a national debate on gun control.
The NRA refrained from making any comments regarding the shooting in the week since, but on Friday LaPierre pleaded for the public to heed his group’s call for more guns — specifically guns in classrooms from coast-to-coast.
The NRA has “remained respectfully silent” in the aftermath of the tragedy, LaPierre said, but has now decided the time has come to take action.
According to the gun rights advocate, the most logical way to curb the chances of another bloody massacre is to install armed gunmen in every school in the country.
“Think about it,” said LaPierre during the Friday morning presser. “We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security.
“We care about the President, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by armed Capitol Police officers,” he said, “Yet when it comes to the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family — our children — we as a society leave them utterly defenseless, and the monsters and predators of this world know it and exploit it.”
As LaPierre read his prepared remarks, demonstrators with the protest group Code Pink unfurled a banner in front of his podium that read “NRA KILLING OUR KIDS.” Protester was removed from the room while shouting “Shame on the NRA,” and the conference continued after LaPierre paused for the hecklers.
Not once during his address did LaPierre actually touch on the issue of gun control, instead insisting that firearms were the only answer to ending school shootings. At one point during his remarks, LaPierre urged the government to create an active national database of the mentally ill as a proposed method of prevention against other attacks. Because they’ve refused to implement such a system, he said the government is just creating more killers.
In a briefing broadcast live on several major news networks, LaPierre blamed the US entertainment industry, the corporate media and even the government for the Newtown shooting. Had the NRA’s earlier answers been considered, he suggested the massacre might not have occurred.
“Is the press and political class here in Washington 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? No one — regardless of personal political prejudice — has the right to impose that sacrifice,” he said.
At one point, LaPierre said he asked for armed security in schools following the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007.
“The media called me crazy,” he said. “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?
“How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame — from a national media machine that rewards them with the wall-to-wall attention and sense of identity that they crave — while provoking others to try to make their mark?” he said.
LaPierre also attacked America’s alleged “callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people,” citing a number of outdated video games and motion pictures known for graphic imagery.
“Isn't fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?” he said.
Until the media stops glorifying massacres, the NRA believes putting armed patrolmen in each and every school is necessary to stop another shooting.
“That's a plan of action that can, and will, make a real, positive and indisputable difference in the safety of our children — starting right now,” he said.
“Before Congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation or anything else, as soon as our kids return to school after the holiday break, we need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work — and by that I mean armed security,” LaPierre said.
Before concluding his address, LaPierre introduced former congressman and Homeland Security agent Asa Hutchinson, who will lead the NRA’s National School Shield Program.
“Under Asa's leadership, our team of security experts will make this the best program in the world for protecting our children at school, and we will make that program available to every school in America free of charge,” LaPierre said.
Hutchinson told the audience that the plan will indeed call for “armed, trained, qualified school security personnel,” and asked retired police, military and rescue personnel to consider offering their services to serve in the program.
“School safety is a complex issue with no simple, single solution. But I believe trained, qualified, armed security is one key component among many that can provide the rest line of deterrence as well as the last line of defense,” he said.
In the hours and minutes after both men finished addressing the crowd, the top-trending topics on Twitter involved the NRA. A large number of tweets that were widely circulated condemned the organization and its administrators for their remarks.
“The only way this NRA press conference would make any sense is if someone shouted, ‘LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT!’" user @JennyJohnsonHi5 wrote.
“Wayne #LaPierre is proof of what happens when we allow the mentally ill to own guns,” wrote comedian John Fugelsang.