NRA calls for armed police officer in every school
BY PHILIP ELLIOTT & NEDRA PICKLER Associated Press
Saturday, December 22, 2012
12/22/12 at 7:03 AM
Related story: TPS cost could be $3 million a year.Original Print Headline: NRA calls for guards in all schools
WASHINGTON - Guns and police officers in all American schools are what's needed to stop the next killer "waiting in the wings," the National Rifle Association declared Friday, taking a no-retreat stance amid growing calls for gun control after the shootings that claimed the lives of 26 children and school staff.
"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 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."
The nation's largest gun-rights lobby broke its weeklong silence on the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School with a defiant presentation. The event was billed as a news conference, but NRA leaders took no questions. Twice, they were interrupted by banner-waving protesters, who were removed by security.
Some had predicted that after the slaughter of a score of elementary-school children by a man using a semi-automatic rifle, the group might soften its stance. 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 program proven to work," LaPierre said. "And by that I mean armed security."
He 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 program 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, and not even the NRA's point man on the effort seemed willing to go so far. Former Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, whom LaPierre named national director of the program, said in an interview that decisions about armed guards in schools should be made by local districts.
"I think everyone recognizes that an armed presence in schools is sometimes appropriate," Hutchinson said. "That is one option. I would never want to have a mandatory requirement for every school district to have that."
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."
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., called the NRA's response "both ludicrous and insulting" and pointed out that armed personnel at Columbine High School and Fort Hood could not stop mass shootings. The liberal group CREDO, which organized an anti-NRA protest on Capitol Hill, called LaPierre's speech "bizarre and quite frankly paranoid."
"This must be a wake-up call even to the NRA's own members that the NRA's Washington lobbyists need to stand down and let Congress pass sensible gun control laws now," CREDO political director Becky Bond said in a statement.
The NRA's proposal would be unworkable given the huge numbers of officers needed, said the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Craig Steckler.
He pointed to budget cuts and hiring freezes and noted that in his hometown of Fremont, Calif., it would take half the city's police force to post one officer at each of the city's 43 schools.
The Department of Education has counted 98,817 public schools in the United States and an additional 33,366 private schools.
Gun rights advocates on Capitol Hill had no immediate comment. They will have to walk a tough road between pressure from the powerful NRA, backed by an army of passionate supporters, and outrage over the Sandy Hook deaths that has already swayed some in Congress to adjust their public views.
The National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre makes a statement during a news conference on Friday in Washington in response to the Connecticut school shooting. The National Rifle Association broke its silence Friday on last week's shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 children and staff dead. EVAN VUCCI/Associated Press