The National Rifle Association (NRA) called out the federal government for not having a national database of the mentally ill and blamed an alleged decline in prosecution of gun crimes for being at the root at senseless gun violence in the United States. He offered the nation “properly trained armed good guys.”
During a press conference ending the organization’s silence on the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, blamed “reckless behavior” brought into the home via various media and again called for armed security at schools.
“If we truly cherish our kids more than our money or our celebrities, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible and the security that is only available with a properly trained, armed, good guy,” said LaPierre.
“Can you at least admit it is possible that 26 little kids, 26 innocent lives could have been spared” if there had been armed security in the school, LaPierre asked rhetorically. “Is that so abhorrent to you that you would rather continue to risk the alternative?”
No questions were taken at the Washington, D.C. press conference. Two protestors with signs were taken from the audience by security.
LaPierre unveiled what he called at National School Shield Safety Program. Asa Hutchinson, the first-ever Under Secretary for Border & Transportation Security at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will head the program. He also has served as a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, U.S. Congressman from the 3rd District of Arkansas, and administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them,” said La Pierre. “They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza (the shooter in Connecticut) isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment?”
The National School Shield Safety Program will be funded by the NRA, which last year generated $227 million in revenue, including $100 million in membership dues. “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,” said LaPierre. “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.”
“Every school in America needs to immediately identify, dedicate and deploy the resources necessary to put these security forces in place right now. And the National Rifle Association, as America’s preeminent trainer of law enforcement and security personnel for the past 50 years, is ready, willing and uniquely qualified to help,” said LaPierre.
“Our training programs are the most advanced in the world. That expertise must be brought to bear to protect our schools and our children now. We did it for the nation’s defense industries and military installations during World War II, and we’ll do it for our schools today,” he said.
LaPierre also spent a good portion of the talk blaming video games, including one called “Kindergarten Killers,” movies, the media, politicians and a lack of a registry of mental health patients as among the reasons for gun violence in the United States.
Hutchinson said the program will be independent of the NRA and will put together templates of best practices that will be provided free to schools. He also called on retired military, police and other emergency services experts to volunteer to be armed security at schools and to be trained in the programs.
“For the sake of the safety of every child in America, I call on every parent, every teacher, every school administrator and every law enforcement officer in this country to join us in the National School Shield Program and protect our children with the only line of positive defense that’s tested and proven to work,” said LaPierre.
Representatives of the national organization The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence declined requests to be interviewed. The $3-million-a-year organization is named for James Brady, the press secretary for President Ronald Reagan who was shot during an assassination attempt on Reagan in 1981.
Daniel Gross, president of The Brady Campaign, said via a statement: “To the 74 percent of NRA members who support requiring a criminal background check of anyone purchasing a gun…To the 87 percent of NRA members who believe that the 2nd Amendment can coexist with efforts to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals… To all NRA members who believe like we do, that we are better than this, we send this message… Join us. Join us in making sure the gun violence ends now. We are all Americans and we all agree we are better than this.”
Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and native of Newtown, Conn., issued a statement in response to the NRA’s call for more armed guards at schools. “The NRA plan, which cynically allows for the continued sale of the assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines marketed by its gun industry corporate donors has already been tried, and it did not work. In fact there were two armed law enforcement agents present at Columbine High School during the assault by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold that left 15 dead and 23 wounded. They twice engaged and fired at Eric Harris in an effort to stop the shooting, but were unsuccessful because they were outgunned by the assault weapons wielded by the two teens.”
The statement continued: “Now is the time to limit the increasingly lethal firepower available to civilians and halt the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The American people understand that–even if the NRA and the gun industry that helps fund it do not.”