National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre called for an armed police officer to be in every American school.
During a speech Friday morning, LaPierre urged Congress to appropriate money for the armed guards as soon as possible.
“We must act now for the sake of every child in America,” LaPierre said.
— Link: Read the full speech
The speech was the first public comments the NRA has made since the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school last week.
LaPierre made a familiar plea that guns in American actually make people more safe.
“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun,” LePierre said.
The speech was interrupted twice by CodePink.org protesters shouting anti-NRA slogans and bearing banners in front of his podium, including one that said, “NRA blood on your hands.”
The nation’s most prominent gun rights lobby joins “the nation in horror, outrage and earnest prayer for the families” who “suffered such an incomprehensible loss” in Newtown, Connecticut, LaPierre said.
However, he said, schools remain a target by criminal gunmen because they are not protected by armed security the way other important institutions are.
Policies banning guns at schools create a place that “insane killers” consider “the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk,” LaPierre said.
Such policies leave schoolchildren “utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it,” he said.
Former congressman Asa Hutchinson will lead the school security project.
Armed personnel will be part of the security model but not the only component, Hutchinson said.
“School safety is a complex issue with no simple, single solution,” he said. “But I believe trained, qualified, armed security is one key component among many that can provide the first line of deterrence as well as the last line of defense.”
Friday’s event was billed as a news conference, but LaPierre only read a statement; he took no questions.
One week ago, a gunman forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot 20 students, six adults then himself dead in Newtown.
Adam Lanza had killed his mother before arriving at the school.
Across the nation Friday morning, church bells rang in remembrance of the victims. The NRA was among those groups that observed a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m., the same time as last week’s massacre.
Despite the relative silence early on from the powerful lobbying group’s offices in Fairfax, Virginia, the NRA is regrouping in anticipation of a massive legislative push for gun control legislation, a gun policy expert said.
Kristin Goss, an associate professor of public policy and political science at Duke University and author of “Disarmed: The Missing Movement for Gun Control in America,” said that strategy is part of the organization’s playbook after an incident such as this one.
After such a terrifying event, when there is a national outcry, the NRA typically lays low, Goss said.
“They’re used to seeing this cycle, express condolences and hope the attention will shift to a new issue.”
Obama starts gun control debate
This week, the Obama administration put into motion an effort to change U.S. gun laws.
Vice President Joe Biden met with Cabinet members and law enforcement leaders at the White House to start formulating what Obama called “real reforms right now.”
Colorado Rep. Dianna DeGette (D) released a statement criticizing the NRA speech saying LePierre ” had an opportunity to come forward with a vision of reasonable solutions and a spirit of cooperation.”
“Instead, they continued their decades-long position of obstructionism, assigning a laundry list of blame, and offering ideas that simply serve to absolve their organization and excuse the rampant availability of guns and ammunition designed only to kill as many people, in as short a span of time, as possible,” DeGette said.
More than 195,000 people have signed an online White House petition supporting new gun control legislation.
A slight majority of Americans favor major restrictions on guns: 52%, up five points from a survey taken in August after the July shooting inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, where 12 people died, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday.
Biden will lead a White House effort to craft proposals aimed at preventing another tragedy such as the Newtown shootings. The recommendations are due sometime in January.
That same month, several lawmakers have promised to introduce or reintroduce gun control legislation, ranging from a reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons to banning the sale of high-capacity magazines.
Since the shootings, a number of conservative Democrats and some Republicans who have supported gun rights have said they are open to discussing the issue.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said she will introduce legislation to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. The White House has said that the president supports that effort.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took her own step towards reform Wednesday by announcing a new task force on preventing gun violence.
Pelosi said the task force will work towards restoring the assault weapons ban, strengthening the background check system, and addressing mental health and violence issues.
The NRA, with its roughly 4.3 million members, is the standard-bearer for protecting the Second Amendment. It is also the source of hefty campaign donations.
During the 2012 election cycle, the NRA donated $719,596 to candidates. Republicans received $634,146 of that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ analysis of federal campaign data.
Some $85,450 went to Democrats, many of them in states that are considered more conservative when it comes to gun control laws.