Washington – The powerful National Rifle Association gun lobby declared that guns and police officers are needed in all American schools to stop the next killer “waiting in the wings.”
Wayne LaPierre, the group’s CEO, took the defiant stance in a speech yesterday amid growing calls for gun control after the Connecticut school massacre that claimed the lives of 26 children and school staff.
Some members of Congress who had long scoffed at gun-control proposals have begun to suggest some concessions could be made, and a fierce debate over legislation seems likely next month.
President Barack Obama has demanded “real action, right now”.
That has left the largest US gun-rights lobby on the defensive.
It broke its weeklong silence on the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School at an event yesterday billed as a news conference, but with no questions.
Twice, it was interrupted by banner-waving protesters, who were removed by security.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said Wayne LaPierre, the group’s chief executive officer.
Some had predicted that after the slaughter of so many elementary-school children by a man using a semi-automatic rifle, the group might soften its stance, at least slightly.
Instead, LaPierre delivered a 25-minute tirade against the notion that another gun law would stop killings in a culture where children are exposed daily to violence in video games, movies and music videos.
He argued that guns are the solution, not the problem.
“Before Congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation or anything else; as soon as our kids return to school after the holiday break, we need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection programme proven to work,” LaPierre said.
“And by that I mean armed security.”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the NRA is blaming everyone but itself for a national gun crisis and is offering “a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe.”
LaPierre said Congress should immediately appropriate funds to post an armed police officer in every school.
Meanwhile, he said the NRA would develop a school emergency response programme that would include volunteers from the group’s 4.3 million members to help guard children.
His armed-officers idea was immediately lambasted by gun control advocates.
Democrat Jerrold Nadler of New York called the NRA’s response “both ludicrous and insulting” and pointed out that armed personnel at Columbine High School in Colorado and the Fort Hood Army post in Texas could not stop mass shootings.