'The most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen.': NRA condemned after its astonishing response to Sandy Hook massacre calling for schools to arm themselvesRepublicans and Democrats unite in their criticism of the National Rifle Association after the powerful group claimed that school should have armed guards to protect against a Sandy Hook style attackNew Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg weigh in with their opposition to the NRA's proposalsThe statement made by the NRA's chief executive Wayne LaPierre has been called 'haunting and disturbing'
12:02 GMT, 22 December 2012
Politicians and gun-control advocates have reacted with barely concealed outrage and disbelief after the National Rifle Association called for armed guards in every school and pointed the finger of blame at rap music, films and video games for firearm violence.
In the hours following the highly-anticipated remarks by the NRA's chief executive Wayne LaPierre, figures from both sides of the political spectrum weighed in to disagree with his assertion that the no-weapons policies at schools put children's lives at risk.
Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele called the NRA's remarks 'very haunting and very disturbing' and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told reporters on Friday that he did not agree with placing armed guards in school.
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Not A Good Idea: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that he was not in favour of armed guards in the nation's schools
'I don't even know where to begin,' Steele said on MSNBC after the NRA's statement. 'As a supporter of the Second Amendment and a supporter of the NRA, even though I'm not a member of the NRA, I just found it very haunting and very disturbing that our country now that are talking about arming our teachers and our principals in classrooms. I do not believe that's where the American people want to go.'
Christie told reporters gathered in Newark that he feels armed guards in schools would not necessarily even deter potential gun crimes.
'In general I don't think that the solution to safety in schools is putting an armed guard because for it to be really effective in my view, from a law enforcement perspective, you have to have an armed guard at every classroom,' he said. 'Because if you just have an armed guard at the front door then what if this guy had gone around to the side door There's many doors in and out of schools.'
Christie said his comments were not specific to the NRA's proposal as he had not yet seen the statement.
New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg who is an outspoken gun-control advocate called the statement, 'a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country.'
'Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe,' he said. 'Enough. As a country, we must rise above special interest politics.'
The Democratic congressman and senator elect Chris Murphy, whose district includes Newtown said in a tweet: 'Walking out of another funeral and was handed the NRA transcript. The most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen.'
Mark Kelly – standing with his wife Gabrielle Gifford (left) next to President Obama has criticised the NRA's statement as has New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Representative Carolyn McCarthy, a Democrat from New York state, who husband was killed and her son seriously injured in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting said she was 'saddened by what I saw today.;
Other politicians, such as New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg said that LaPierre's comments were 'reckless', while Californian Senator Barbara Boxer said that by blaming others LaPierre 'showed himself to be completely out of touch by ignoring the proliferation of weapons of war on our streets.'
The husband of former Arizoan congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously injured in a mass shooting in TUcson last year, said that he was disappointed at the NRA's remarks.
'The NRA could have chosen to be a voice for the vast majority of its own members who want common sense, reasonable safeguards on deadly firearms, but instead it chose to defend extreme pro-gun positions that aren't even popular among the law abiding gun owners it represents,' Kelly said.
Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele called the NRA's remarks 'very haunting and very disturbing.'
Senator-elect Chris Murphy is currently a congressional representative and Newtown is one of his districts
Dennis van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, told NBC News the idea “that there be a policeman in every building” deserves to be part of a wide-ranging discussion about how to protect schoolchildren from bullets, but he scoffed at LaPierre’s call for volunteers packing heat.
'We have 90,000 [school] buildings in America, and you want to volunteers to come and have a gun at the school' he said, noting that many schools already have armed safety officers.
'When somebody has an assault rifle and blows out a window with it, you can’t stop that.'
Dave Workman, senior editor of The Gun Mag, a publication owned by the Second Amendment Foundation, said the NRA news conference “just ramps up the attention to gun-free zones.”
'We’ve had shootings in shopping malls, movie theaters, schools, colleges – all gun-free zones – so maybe it’s time to take a look at that,' Workman said.
'The prevailing wisdom with a lot of the gun owners is — it’s about time we started talking about something other than banning guns.'
It was Friday morning when the NRA's CEO Wayne LaPierre put the blame for mass shootings on violent media, rejected new gun control measures, and called for more security in the nation's schools.
'The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun,' LaPierre said as he addressed a room of press.
'I call on Congress today to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation,' he said.
No new regulations: NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre broke his organization's silence today rejecting new gun control measures and calling for more security and guns in schools
Divided: Wayne LaPierre's statement was interrupted twice by protests blaming the NRA for a culture of violence
Should schools be given armed guards
Click to view yesterday's poll results
Following the Sandy Hook shootings the NRA was conspicuously silent, making no statements in the days immediately following the tragedy and even taking down its Facebook page amid a vicious backlash blaming the organization for a gun culture that encouraged such tragedies.
Sandy Hook was one of the worst school shootings in American history, claiming 20 children and 7 adults.
The group had said today's conference would be a the start of 'meaningful contributions' to preventing more spree killings.
'For all the noise and anger directed at us over the past week nobody has addressed the most important pressing and immediate question we face,' he said. 'How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know that works.'
'The only way to answer that question is to face the truth. Politicians pass laws for gun free zones…they brag about them, post signs advertising them, and in doing so they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest places to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.'
Besides calling for more security in schools, LaPierre made a brief criticism that the nation did not register people with mental health problems and blamed the media – specifically films, movies, and video games – glamorizing violence.
Ejected: An unidentified protestor, holding up a sign, is removed by a security guard during a speech by LaPierre's speach
'You've got blood on your hands!': Two protestors had to be removed from the conference after pulling out banners blaming the NRA for promoting violence and dangerous assault weapons
'There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt, shadow industry that sows violence against its
Massacre: Adam Lanza killed 28 people using a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle
own people,' he said before naming entertainment like the game Grand Theft Auto and films like National Born Killers and American Pyscho.
'They all have the nerve to call it entertainment, but is that what it is' he said. 'Isn't fantasizing about killing as a way to get your kicks really the dirtiest form of pornography'
LaPierre's statement did no go unchallenged, with two protestors interrupting him with banners blaming the NRA for school shootings who were then escorted out of the conference.
Anti-firearm protestors burst in on Wayne LaPierre's speech
this morning, waving placards that accused the NRA of having 'blood on its
hands' after the Sandy Hook massacre.
The protestors were members of Code Pink, a self-described 'women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement.'
Two separate demonstrators managed to stop the National
Rifle Association CEO mid-speech, holding up signs blaming the nation's largest
U.S. gun rights group for the killing of 20 first-graders in Newtown,
Connecticut, one week ago today.
As LaPierre claimed that the only way to stop a bad guy with
a gun was a good guy with a gun, the protestors held up banners claiming 'NRA:
Killing Our Kids' and 'NRA: Blood on Your Hands.'
After silencing LaPierre for a number of minutes and
stealing the attention of the media, the protestors were escorted out of the
room as they screamed the slogans on their banners.
LaPierre derided calls for gun control, even as many have made impassioned pleas for bans on automatic and semiautomatic weapons in the last week.
One of Lanza's guns, the .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, has received such a backlash that private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management announced it would sell its stake in the weapon's manufacturer, Freedom Group.
It's the media: LaPierre blamed violent games like Grand Theft Auto and films like American Psycho for encouraging young people to kill
Hijacked: The NRA broke its silence today but it was a protestor who stole much of the limelight
LaPierre declined to take questions
after the press conference but will appear this weekend on Meet
How effective are armed guards The story of the sheriff's deputy who ate lunch with Columbine students
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre wants armed guards in every school. But an armed guard on scene was unable to prevent one of the worst school shootings in history.
Neil Gardner, a sheriff's deputy in Jefferson County, Colo was assigned to watch Columbine High School. He even ate lunch with the students so he could watch the school.
While in the parking lot outside the cafeteria, Gardner heard reports of a 'female down in the south lot.' He activated his siren and went to investigate.
After pulling his vehicle into the senior lot, he got out of his patrol car and heard a second call, 'Neill, there's a shooter inside the school.' Emergency responders were already on their way.
As Gardner exited his car he came face to face with Eric Harris, one of the teen shooters who had been firing into the west doors. Harris fired on Gardner 10 times with his rifle before the gun jammed.
Upon seeing Harris working with his gun, Gardner leaned over the top of his car and fired four times. He was 60 yards away. Though he momentarily thought he had hit him, seconds later Harris returned fire.
After their exchanged Harris went back into the building and Gardner radioed for backup.
Though Gardner stood his ground until backup arrived, and further exchanged gunfire with the shooters who were firing out of school windows, he was unable to stop Harris from murdering more students or himself.
Press to further discuss his organization's reaction.
Some immediately reacted by calling the conference a public relations disaster in which LaPierre seemed despairingly out of touch.
'There will be time, later, to tick off the litany of factual errors and
logical missteps in LaPierre’s speech, such as the notion that a single
armed security officer would have stood much of a chance against an
assailant with a high-powered assault rifle and two semiautomatic
pistols, but for now, it is worth noting that while LaPierre’s reaction
was completely predictable, he didn’t have to do it now.,' wrote Mediaite, a blog covering politics and entertainment in the media industry. 'He didn’t have
to do it today, exactly one week after the nation first began to learn
of the tragedy, at this time, when the echoes of a moment of silence in
Newtown still hung in the spiritual air. This was an act of defiance,
and it will result in punishment for anyone who stands with LaPierre
Slate called the press conference, 'unhinged' and reported that LaPierre's proposal to put armed security in every school would cost approximately $5.5 billion.
The New York Daily News called him a 'mad gunman' giving a 'wild rant' disguised as a speech.
Especially mocked was NRA president Dave Keene's somewhat contradictory statement to reporters: 'This is the beginning of a serious conversation. We won’t be taking questions today.'
Read more here: http://voices.kansascity.com/entries/nras-wayne-lapierre-all-bluster-no-ideas/#storylink=cpy
But others supported LaPierre's statements, such as his indictment of the media's cavalier attitude towards violence as entertainment.
'Even if you think the NRA is dodging the gun question, I hope you'll concede LaPierre has a point about our media and violent culture,' tweeted Matt K. Lewis, writer for the Week and the Daily Caller.
Erick Erickson, editor in chief of the conservative political blog Red State tweeted: 'While I agree with the NRA and LaPierre's points in substance, I'm not sure this presser was good in style a week after Newtown.'
Until this morning, the NRA has avoided entering the gun debate.
Gun rights advocates declined appearances on Meet the Press Sunday while New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg used the forum for an impassioned argument for greater regulation.
Meanwhile NRA-backed politicians like West Virginia Sen. Mike Machin, a Democrat, came out in favor of new gun laws calling the Sandy Hook shootings 'bigger than just about guns. It's about how we treat people with mental
illness, how we intervene, how we get them the care they need, how we
protect our schools. It's just so sad.'
The NRA finally broke its silence Wednesday, releasing a statement mourning Sandy Hook's victims but dodging the gun control issue.
Passion: Before the NRA's statement President Obama released a video calling for public support for gun control
'The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million
moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and
heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in
Newtown,' the statement read.
'Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency,
we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the
facts before commenting.'
'The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.'
U.S. President Barack Obama preempted the NRA's statement with a video release this morning, asking for public support for new legislation.
'It's encouraging that many gun owners have stepped up this week to say
there are steps we can take to prevent more tragedies like the one in
Newtown, steps that both protect our rights and protect our kids,' Obama said.
VIDEO The National Rifle Association's reaction to Sandy Hook
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'We should put armed security in every school': The full text of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre's remarks
The National Rifle Association's 4 million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters join the nation in horror, outrage, grief and earnest prayer for the families of Newtown, Connecticut … who suffered such incomprehensible loss as a result of this unspeakable crime.
Out of respect for those grieving families, and until the facts are known, the NRA has refrained from comment. While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectfully silent. Now, we must speak … 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 only way to answer that question is to face up to the truth.
Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones. They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.
How have our nation's priorities gotten so far out of order Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants,courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security. We care about the President, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by armed Capitol Police officers. Yet when it comes to the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family — our children — we as a society leave them utterly defenseless, and the monsters and predators of this world know it and exploit it.
That must change now! The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly
ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn't planning his attack on aschool he's already identified at this very moment 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 — while provoking others to try to make their mark A dozen more killers A hundred More How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill
And the fact is, that wouldn't even begin to address the much larger and more lethal criminal class: Killers, robbers, rapists and drug gang members who have spread like cancer in every community in this country. Meanwhile, federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 40%— to the lowest levels in a decade. So now, due to a declining willingness to prosecute dangerous criminals, violent crime is increasing again for the first time in19 years! Add another hurricane, terrorist attack or some other natural or man-made disaster, and you've got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization.
And here's another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm,Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one:it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it
Then there’s the blood-soaked slasher films like “American Psycho”and “Natural Born Killers” that are aired like propaganda loops on”Splatterdays” and every day, and a thousand music videos thatportray life as a joke and murder as a way of life. And then they havethe nerve to call it “entertainment.” But is that what it really is Isn't fantasizing about killing people as away to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography
In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another 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.
A child growing up in America witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18. And throughout it all, too many in our national media … their corporate owners … and their stockholders … act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. Rather than face their own moral failings,the media demonize lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws and fill the national debate with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away.
The media call semi-automatic firearms “machine guns” — they claim these civilian semi-automatic firearms are used by the military, and they tell us that the .223 round is one of the most powerful rifle calibers … when all of these claims are factually untrue. They don't know what they're talking about! Worse, they perpetuate the dangerous notion that one more gun ban — or one more law imposed on peaceful, lawful people — will protect us where 20,000 others have failed!
As brave, heroic and self-sacrificing as those teachers were in those classrooms, and as prompt, professional and well-trained as those police were when they responded, they were unable — through no fault of their own — to stop it. As parents, we do everything we can to keep our children safe. It is now time for us to assume responsibility for their safety at school. The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away … or a minute away
Now, I can imagine the shocking headlines you'll print tomorrow morning: “More guns,” you'll claim, “are the NRA's answer to everything!” Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools. But since when did the word “gun” automatically become a bad word A gun in the hands of a Secret Service agent protecting the President isn't a bad word. A gun in the hands of a soldier protecting the United States isn't a bad word. And when you hear the glass breaking in your living room at 3 a.m. and call 911, you won't be able to pray hard enough for a gun in the hands of a good guy to get there fast enough o protect you.
So why is the idea of a gun good when it's used to protect our President or our country or our police, but
bad when it's used to protect our children in their schoolsThey're our kids. They're our responsibility. And it's not just our duty to protect them — it's our right to protect them.
You know, five years ago, after the Virginia Tech tragedy, when I said we should put armed security in every school, the media called me crazy. But what if, when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified, armed security Will you at least admit it's possible
that 26 innocent lives might have been spared Is that so abhorrent to you that you would rather continue to risk the alternativeIs 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 No one — regardless of personal political prejudice — has the right to impose that sacrifice.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is no national, one-size-fits-all solution to protecting our children. But do know this President zeroed out school emergency planning grants in last year's budget, and scrapped “Secure Our Schools”
policing grants in next year's budget. With all the foreign aid, with all the money in the federal budget,we can’t afford to put a police officer in every school
Even if they did that, politicians have no business — and no authority — denying us the right, the ability, or the moral imperative to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm. Now, the National Rifle Association knows that there are millions of qualified active and retired police; active, reserve and retired military;security professionals; certified firefighters and rescue personnel; and an extraordinary corps of patriotic, trained qualified citizens to joinwith local school officials and police in devising a protection plan for every school. We can deploy them to protect our kids
We can immediately make America's schools safer — relying on the brave men and women of America’s police force. The budget of our local police departments are strained and resources are limited, but their dedication and courage are second to none and they can be deployed right now. I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever isnecessary to put armed police officers in every school — and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January.
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 program proven to work —and by that I mean armed security. Right now, today, every school in the United States should plan meetings with parents, school administrators, teachers and local authorities — and draw upon every resource available — to erect a cordon of protection around our kids right now. Every school will havea different solution based on its own unique situation. Every school in America needs to immediately identify, dedicate and deploy the resources necessary to put these security forces in place right now. And the National Rifle Association, as America's preeminent trainer of law enforcement and security personnel for the past 50 years, is ready, willing and uniquely qualified to help.
Our training programs are the most advanced in the world. That expertise must be brought to bear to protect our schools and our children now. We did it for the nation's defense industries and military installations during World War II, and we'll do it for our schools today. The NRA is going to bring all of its knowledge, dedication and resources to develop a model National School Shield Emergency Response Program for every school that wants it. From armed security to building design and access control to information technology to student and teacher training, this multi-faceted program will be developed by the very best experts in their fields.
Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson will lead this effort as National Director of the National School Shield Program, with a budget provided by the NRA of whatever scope the task requires. His experience as a U.S. Attorney, Director of the Drug Enforcement Agency and Undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security will give him the knowledge and expertise to hire the most knowledgeable and credentialed experts available anywhere, to get this program up and running from the first day forward. If we truly cherish our kids more than our money or our celebrities, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible and the security that is only available with a
properly trained — armed — good guy.
Under Asa’s leadership, our team of security experts will make this the best program in the world for protecting our children at school, and we will make that program available to every school in America free of charge. That's a plan of action that can, and will, make a real, positive and indisputable difference in the safety of our children —starting right now. There'll be time for talk and debate later. This is the time,this is the day for decisive action.
We can't wait for the next unspeakable crime to happen before we act. We can't lose precious time debating legislation that won’t work. We mustn't allow politics or personal prejudice to divide us. We must act now. For the sake of the safety of every child in America, I call on every parent, every teacher, every school administrator and every law enforcement officer in this country to join us in the National SchoolShield Program and protect our children with the only line of positive defense that's tested and proven to work. And now, to tell you more about the program, I'd like to introducethe head of that effort — a former U.S. congressman, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and former administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Honorable Asa Hutchinson.