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NRA solution to Newtown school shooting: More guns

Updated 2:14 pm, Friday, December 21, 2012

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  • WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 21:  National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre calls on Congress to pass a law putting armed police officers in every school in America during a news conference at the Willard Hotel December 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. This is the first public appearance that leaders of the gun rights group have made since a 20-year-old man used a popular assault-style rifle to slaughter 20 school children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, one week ago. Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images / 2012 Getty Images
    WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 21: National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre calls on Congress to pass a law putting armed police officers in every school in America during a news conference at the Willard Hotel December 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. This is the first public appearance that leaders of the gun rights group have made since a 20-year-old man used a popular assault-style rifle to slaughter 20 school children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, one week ago. Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

 

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WASHINGTON  -- The embattled National Rifle Association on Friday doubled down on guns -- in the hands of "good guys'' -- as the best answer to school shootings such as the one in Newtown, Conn., that took 26 lives.

Speaking at a long-anticipated news conference, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre called on Congress to fund armed guards in every school and outlined an NRA National School Shield Emergency Response Program "for every school that wants it.'' The effort, to be directed by former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., who also served under President George W. Bush as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration and an undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security, is aimed at helping schools protect against further violence with an army of volunteer retired police officers and others trained in firearms use.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,'' LaPierre said.

LaPierre and NRA president David Keane declined to answer shouted questions at the news conference made more tumultuous with two interruptions by gun-control proponents unfurling signs and shouting "NRA, stop killing our children'' and "NRA has blood on its hands.'' In a week of silence after the Newtown shootings Dec. 14, the NRA had said only that it would offer "meaningful contributions'' aimed at preventing another mass-shooting incident. There had been speculation that with public opinion moving decisively in the direction of more gun control, the nation's leading gun-rights advocacy group with over 4 million members would give ground on assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines or wider background checks of gun purchasers.

None of that happened Friday, as LaPierre pointed a finger of blame at the media, Hollywood and the promoters of violent gun-shooting video games. He displayed a video clip of one, "Kindergarten Killers,'' in which school children are targets.

"Here's another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people,'' LaPierre said.

Gun control groups called the NRA's approach a misguided effort to answer violence with greater potential violence.

"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,'' said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center.

Sugarmann pointed to the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, in which two armed law enforcement officers present during the assault fired on one of the shooters, Eric Harris, but were outgunned by the assault weapons wielded by Harris and his accomplice, Dylan Klebold.

The Columbine shooting left 15 dead and 23 wounded.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, called on NRA members who believe in middle-ground solutions such as background checks for gun buyers to step forward and let themselves be heard.

"To all NRA members who believe like we do, that we are better than this, we send this message: Join us,'' Gross said in a statement. "Join us in making sure the gun violence ends now.'' LaPierre insisted that armed guards in schools are an appropriate solution to ensure the safety of children now.

"A gun in the hands of a Secret Service agent protecting the President isn't a bad word; a gun in the hands of a soldier protecting the United States isn't a bad word,'' LaPierre said. "So why is the idea of a gun good when it's used to protect our President or our country or our police, but bad when it's used to protect our children in their schools?''

(Dan Freedman can be reached at 202-263-6400 or at the e-mail address dan(at)hearstdc.com <http://hearstdc.com> ).