"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." Using this rationale, Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association's CEO and executive vice president, announced that the NRA's solution for stopping school shootings is to station armed guards in every one of the nation's schools by January.
Simply put, the NRA's answer to gun violence, one of the greatest plagues facing America today, is more guns.
"How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them?" he asked. "I call on Congress, today, to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation," LaPierre urged. He then announced that the NRA is launching a "National School Shield" training program to help -- for free -- schools train security personnel and develop security plans.
Mr. LaPierre's remarks came at a Washington news conference that was disrupted twice by anti-gun protestors. One protestor held up a sign that read "NRA Killing Our Kids," before being escorted out by security. David Keene, the NRA's president, introduced LaPierre, saying they would take no questions until next week.
The NRA news conference followed by one week the tragic school shootings in Newtown, Conn., which left 27 persons dead, including 20 young children. The horrific mass muder created a huge outcry across the country against semiautomatic assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama appointed a commission, headed by Vice President Joe Biden, to come up with meaningful recommendations to stem gun violence. He also announced an aggressive timetable to enact such legislation.
The NRA has more than 4 million members, and it is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington. LaPierre explained the timing of the NRA news conference: "Out of respect for those grieving families, and until the facts are known, the NRA has refrained from comment. While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectfully silent."
In the wake of the Newtown massacre, one of several that has occurred over the past few years, some commentators had felt that the NRA might support some form of gun control. They were wrong. Instead, LaPierre blamed computer games, violent movies and music. "In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes -- every minute of every day of every month of every year," he said.
LaPierre blasted the national media, their corporate owners, and their stockholders, "as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators." He continued, "Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws and fill the national debate with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away."
LaPierre concluded his remarks with a plea: "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."
As a parent of a high school girl, I am personally opposed to guns in my daughter's school. I find the LaPierre proposal to be ridiculous and highly flawed. The National School Shield Program calls for retired military and police to be armed, trained and assigned to schools in a few weeks. Who will screen these "volunteers"? What will they be instructed to do? What sort of weapons will they have? Exactly what kind of training will they receive from the NRA, target practice? And the questions go on and on.
Gun violence is a complex problem. There are many complicated factors that may contribute to each incident, including easy access to weapons, mental health issues, computer games, violent movies and television programs. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg bluntly reacted to the NRA press conference in a statement, "The NRA's Washington leadership has long been out of step with its members, and never has that been so apparent as this morning. Their press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country."
A few days after the horrendous mass murder in Newtown, the NRA put out a statement that said they were "shocked, saddened and heartbroken," and would help make sure it would never happen again. Instead, the NRA embarrassed themselves to the shock and sadness of most Americans. If the NRA truly respects the grieving families, it should do something meaningful and worthy of respect.