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October 21, 2014

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gun debate:

NRA stands firm: Public wants armed guards in every school

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Associated Press

Activist Medea Benjamin, of Code Pink, is led away by security as she protests during a statement by National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, left, during a news conference in response to the Connecticut school shooting on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, in Washington. The nation’s largest gun-rights lobby is calling for armed police officers to be posted in every American school to stop the next killer “waiting in the wings.”

WASHINGTON — The National Rifle Association on Sunday forcefully stuck to its call for placing armed police officers and security guards in every school as the best way to avoid shootings such as the recent massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the nation's largest gun rights lobbying organization, said the NRA would push Congress to put a police officer in every school and would coordinate a national effort to put former military and police offers in schools as volunteer guards.

The NRA's response to the Newtown shooting has been panned on several fronts since the group broke its weeklong silence on Friday about the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., called it "the most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen." A headline from the New York Post summarized LaPierre's initial presentation before reporters in Washington with the headline: "Gun Nut! NRA loon in bizarre rant over Newtown."

"If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," LaPierre told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "I think the American people think it's crazy not to do it. It's the one thing that would keep people safe."

LaPierre also contended that any new efforts by Congress to regulate guns or ammunition would not prevent mass shootings. His fresh comments reinforced the position that the NRA took on Friday.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said LaPierre appears to blame everything but guns for a series of mass shootings in recent years.

"Trying to prevent shootings in schools without talking about guns is like trying to prevent lung cancer without talking about cigarettes," Schumer said.

The NRA plans to develop an emergency response program that would include using volunteers from the group's 4.3 million members to help guard children, and has named former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., as national director of the school program.

Hutchinson said the NRA's position was a "very reasonable approach" that he compared to the federal air marshal program that places armed guards on flights.

"Are our children less important to protect than our air transportation? I don't think so," said Hutchinson, who served as an undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security when it was formed.

Hutchinson said schools should not be required to use armed security. LaPierre also argued that local law enforcement should have final say on how the security is put into place, such as where officers would be stationed.

"I've made it clear that it should not be a mandatory law, that every school has this. There should be local choice, but absolutely, I believe that protecting our children with an armed guard who is trained is an important part of the equation," Hutchinson told ABC's "This Week."

LaPierre cited Israel as a model for the type of school security system the NRA envisions.

""Israel had a whole lot of school shootings until they did one thing: They said 'we're going to stop it,' and they put armed security in every school and they have not had a problem since then," he said.

Democratic lawmakers in Congress have become more adamant about the need for stricter gun laws since the shooting. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California is promising to push for a renewal of legislation that banned certain weapons and limited the number of bullets a gun magazine could hold to 10. NRA officials made clear the legislation is a non-starter for them.

"It hasn't worked," LaPierre said. "Dianne Feinstein had her ban and Columbine occurred."

There also has been little indication from Republican leaders that they'll go along with any efforts to curb what kind of guns can be purchased or how much ammunition gun magazines can hold. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., noted that he had an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in his home. He said America would not be made safer by preventing him from buying another one. As to gun magazine limits, he said he can quickly reload by putting in a new magazine.

"The best way to interrupt a shooter is to keep them out of the school, and if they get into the school, have somebody who can interrupt them through armed force," Graham said.

Schumer said that he believes gun owners have even been taken aback by LaPierre's refusal to include additional gun regulation as part of an overall response to the Newtown massacre.

"He's turning people off. That's not where America is at and he's actually helping us," Schumer said on NBC, where he appeared with Graham.

LaPierre also addressed other factors that he said contribute to gun violence in America, but he would not concede that the types of weapons being used are part of the problem.

He was particularly critical of states, which he said are not placing the names of people into a national database designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill. He said some states are not entering names into the system and 23 others are only putting in a small number of records.

"So when they go through the national instant-check system, and they go to try to screen out one of those lunatics, the records are not even in the system," LaPierre said.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut said he found the NRA's statements in recent days disheartening because they deal with every possible cause of gun violence, except guns. He said the NRA's position means that any new regulations that the administration wants to put into place early next year "is not going to happen easily."

"It's going to be a battle, but the president, I think, and vice president, are really ready to lead the fight," Lieberman said on CNN's "State of the Union."

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  1. I want to know how many of those "American Patriots" with guns have had comprehensive mental health testing?

  2. @TeaNutlican 'Patriot'...

    No thanks.

    You & your suggested mythical Brownshirt crews aren't what this American considers 'patriotic'.

    Your over-the-top, double-down on stupid, 'roving bands of gun-wielding whack-nuts on school-grounds' is nuttin' but opportunistic grandstanding by a pro-gun lobby trying to use a warped siege-mentality where none is warranted.

    Answering the conundrum of violence in schools with an offer of Uzi-armed wannabe tin soldiers running around school grounds 'protecting our kids' is the antithesis of what the vast majority of Americans are thinking here...

    The NRA's 'let's fight fire with fire!' proposition should be thrown on the scrap heap of historically preposterous ideas like screen doors on submarines & pet rocks.

  3. Too put it simply, We're at war with ourselves. How come other countries, Canada, Germany, etc. don't have the death rates and gun violence we do? Is stricter gun laws? Is it better upbringing? There are answers. We just need to come together as a people and find them.

  4. First, the NRA does NOT speak for all of the American public. Second, they now stand on one leg demanding that all schools have armed guards WITHOUT any local, neighborhood, public input and decision to do so. That takes away the second leg left to stand on.

    Proactive measures should be put in place to insure the safety and security of our students. As Commenters Iwonder and Dn suggested, we need to act on a case by case basis, to better serve each and every individual school site. Commenter Ernest Binder posits looking at security models within other countries, and also we, ourselves, look within towards our own responsibility in providing security and safety for ourselves and society.

    With regard to, "LaPierre cited Israel as a model for the type of school security system the NRA envisions.

    ""Israel had a whole lot of school shootings until they did one thing: They said 'we're going to stop it,' and they put armed security in every school and they have not had a problem since then," he said." Let's use reason here:

    In a country as Israel, sure they have armed guards in facilities, but offenders just simply by-pass those security measures to using escalated attacks as missles, pipe bombs, car bombs, and human bombs. Comparing the USA to Israel is apples and oranges, not the best way, nor is it allowing those locally to decide.

    These tragic events of rabid violence against unarmed citizens prompt us to look at what can be done to better prevent such incidences. Every organizational safety committee should be actively discussing and putting into place ways to better protect those within their facility and care. It all starts where we are at locally, then expands. Top-down policy making is insensitive to the real needs of those in harm's way.

    These conversations must happen. Also, reforming, supporting, and properly funding our country's mental health system MUST be in this mix. The personality profiles of killers always include problems with their mental health. We cannot continue to ignore this, if we hope to make our homes, cities, and country safer to live in.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star