The NRA on Friday broke its week of silence following the Newtown, Connecticut massacre to offer a "self-serving tirade" that offered one solution to school shootings—more guns in schools.
The group’s CEO and executive vice president Wayne LaPierre stated at a press conference that the group must speak now
[...] for the safety of our nation’s children. Because for all the noise and anger directed at us over the past week, no one — nobody — has addressed the most important, pressing and immediate question we face: How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?
The way to do that, he says, is putting more guns in schools, specifically, putting armed guards in every elementary, middle and high school in the nation.
The reaction from Newtown, Connecticut to gun control advocates to commentators is clear: putting more guns in schools is not the answer.
Josh Sugarmann, Newtown, Connecticut native and executive director of the Violence Policy Center:
"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 [see http://www.vpc.org/nradonors.htm], 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."
Suzy DeYoung, Newtown resident and mother of three:
"People are much smarter than this," DeYoung said. "He is saying we need to be protected from guns by more guns. This lack of logic speaks for itself, and I truly believe the response you are about to see from parents all around the world will offer better commentary than I ever could."
Daniel Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:
"What was said today is not indicative of the conversation the American public wants to have."
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:
The solution to protecting our children is not to place them in the middle of shootouts between “good guys” and “bad guys.” The goal of this policy discussion should be to prevent the first shot from ever being fired. That can be addressed by enacting comprehensive reforms to keep military-style firearms off our streets and ensure that every gun sale involves a thorough background check.
We are a society awash in military-style firepower, which can be purchased with little or no screening in states across America. It is now apparent that we will never receive positive contributions on how to solve this problem from the organization whose lobbying has created it. The matter is now in the hands of the millions of Americans across this country who want meaningful reform of our nation’s gun laws.
Joan Walsh, Salon:
Just when it seemed the meltdown on the right couldn’t get any more spectacular, after House Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B humiliation Thursday night, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre self-destructed Friday morning. His bizarre self-serving tirade blamed everything but guns for the Sandy Hook massacre last week. He proposed placing an armed police officer in every school.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he pronounced fatuously.
As usual for the NRA, the solution to gun violence is more guns. But finally, Americans are seeing that for the destructive illogic that it is. LaPierre is truly one of the bad guys. We don’t need guns to fight him, though, we just need votes. And we need the politicians elected with our votes to stand up for us.
Newtown resident David Stout:
"Folks in Newtown are appalled by that suggestion [to put armed security in every school]," said Stout, a hunter who owns several hunting rifles. "I understand we want to protect our kids, but there are other ways to do that. We don’t want to turn our schools into prisons."
Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post:
LaPierre’s address was delivered from a hermetically sealed alternate universe. A universe where you ask, "When did the gun become a bad word?" A universe where it makes sense to say, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." A universe that believes gun-free school zones "tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk." A universe that calls on Congress "to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school — and to do it now…." A universe that bemoans "our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill," yet resists efforts for criminal background checks on gun buyers.
"It’s time for our government to finally stand up to the NRA. It’s time for them to protect our children, not their guns," says CODEPINK co-director Medea Benjamin. "The NRA spokesperson was talking about ‘reckless behavior’ of the media and I stood up and said, ‘We need to stop the reckless behavior of the NRA, ban assault weapons, and have less guns on our streets, not more!’"
"From the wars the American government is perpetuating abroad, especially with killer drone strikes, to the glorification of murder in our pop culture, it’s no surprise that violence is prevalent in our society," said CODEPINK co-director Rae Abileah. "We need a comprehensive plan to address weapons in our communities and it starts with holding the NRA accountable."
"The NRA is out of touch, and showed a lack of remorse today. By advocating for armed guards, they want to put more guns in our schools, rather than protect our children," Tighe Barry went on to say. "The NRA uses Washington as a way to bypass the wishes of the American public. We need to end the violence now."
While LaPierre was pushing for more guns in schools and ignoring calls for greater gun control at the press conference, a shooting on a rural road in Pennsylvania left four people dead and three injured.