A week after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association is finally speaking out—and remaining defiant.
Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the gun rights group, called for a “plan of absolute protection” which includes putting “armed police officers” in every single school across America.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre insisted during a highly anticipated press conference Friday, which drew immediate criticism from gun-control backers and others.
LaPierre insisted gun-owners were being “demonized” in America and placed blame on the media and President Obama. He also said the country needs to create a database of the mentally ill, and branded violent video games and movies the “filthiest form of pornography.”
LaPierre insisted the nation’s priorities were “out of order.”
“We care about our money so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, court houses, even sports stadiums are all protected by armed security… yet when it comes to our most beloved, innocent and most vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day as defenseless.” Predators, he insisted, “know it and exploit it.”
He called on Congress to immediately appropriate “whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school in this nation.” He said the NRA would start a “National Schools Shield Program,” headed by former Congressman Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas.
The press conference was interrupted by two protesters, who yelled phrases including “NRA, stop killing our children” and the “NRA has blood on its hands.” LaPierre ignored them and continued with his script.
The NRA was heavily criticized for remaining silent for four days after the shooting, which left 20 children dead. The organization said Tuesday in a statement that it was refraining from commenting to give time for mourning and a full investigation, but added it was prepared to “offer a meaningful contribution” to make sure tragedies like the one in Newtown never happen again.
The news conference comes as several, pro-gun lawmakers—who previously received high marks from the NRA—are calling for new gun legislation in the wake of the shooting. That includes Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Mark Warner of Virginia, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
President Obama says he supports Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s effort to reinstate the assault weapons ban during his second term, saying on Wednesday he sees “no reason” why the bill can’t pass in Congress. He also assigned Vice President Joe Biden to lead a task force whose aim is to develop new gun control proposals by the end of next month.
Sen. Scott Brown, who's leaving office at the end of the year, became the first Republican lawmaker in the upper chamber of Congress to back the ban.
The last federal assault weapons ban was enacted from 1994 to 2004. It outlawed manufacturing, transferring and possessing semi-automatic assault rifles, listing several guns by name , including AK-47s, Uzis and Colt AR-15s. The ban had a provision that allowed it to expire eight years ago.
The NRA said at its press conference that it would not take questions until next week.
LaPierre injected fear into his speech. “Does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning an attack on a school he’s already identified?,” he asked, adding: "Can’t we afford to put a police officer in every single school?” saying lawmakers have “no right to deny us the right.”