When it finally broke its silence Friday at a press conference in Washington, the head of the National Rifle Association blamed the media and violent video games for the Newtown massacre and then called for armed police officers in every school in the country.
Wayne LaPierre, NRA’s executive vice president and chief executive officer, said that promoting gun-free zones tells “every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”
“Does anybody really believe the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment?” LaPierre asked. “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?”
Lanza is the gunman who blasted his way into the elementary school and killed 26 children and educators before taking his own life last week. Since the shooting, the NRA’s social media network had been silent until it announced on Tuesday that it would hold a press conference today.
No questions were allowed at the event, which was interrupted twice by protesters who shouted things like it’s the “NRA that are killing our children” and “the NRA has blood on its hands.”
LaPierre continued with his scripted remarks as soon as the protesters were escorted outside of the room at the Willard Hotel.
“Rather than face their own moral failings the media demonize gun owners,” LaPierre continued.
After rattling off a handful of violent video games, including one called “Kindergarten Killers,” LaPierre said media conglomerates are competing with each other “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 went onto blame the federal government for not prosecuting enough gun crimes before detailing a national program to put armed police officers in every school.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said. “Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away . . . or a minute away?”
He speculated whether Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung would be alive today if there was an armed police officer waiting to greet the gunman.
“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?” LaPierre said.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the NRA’s remarks are inadequate to address the situation.
“The NRA’s proposal for more armed guards in schools may be helpful in some instances, but it falls far short of the strong, serious, comprehensive action needed to stop the kind of horrific tragedy that occurred one week ago in Newtown,” Blumenthal said in a statement.
In Connecticut, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, some state lawmakers believe they can do more. Nationally, Connecticut’s Congressional delegation feels the same way.
“The American people are demanding real change to make our nation safe, and the NRA’s proposals fail to offer any real protection from violence,” Blumenthal said. “NRA members in Connecticut are writing and calling me to say that the NRA does not speak for them, and that they want real change.”
Exactly what that real change will look like is unknown at the moment.
President Barack Obama, who spoke at an interfaith vigil in Newtown last Sunday, charged a task force to give him “concrete proposals” by the beginning of January. The task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden met for the first time Thursday.
In Hartford, lawmakers have already started drafting legislation to ban high capacity magazines and imposing a sales tax on bullets.
The various independent groups which make up the gun lobby in Connecticut have offered other suggestions, such as arming school personnel. They have scoffed at proposals to impose tougher gun laws or restrictions on ammunition.
“If police have an 18-round handgun, why shouldn’t the civilian who is trying to defend his property?” Robert Crook, head of the Connecticut Sportsmen’s Coalition, said Thursday during a panel discussion hosted by WNPR and CPTV.
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano issued a statement calling the NRA “tone deaf” for its remarks Friday.
“Rather than contributing to the national conversation on the easy availability of high-powered weapons, the NRA ignored the overarching issue of gun violence in our communities and instead blamed everyone else – the media, the schools and now are following a line of logic that would have us arm our teachers,” DeStefano said as president of the National League of Cities.