In a Friday morning press conference, the National Rifle Association broke its weeklong silence following the horrific shooting of 26 people at a school in Newtown, CT and called for a surge of gun-carrying "good guys" around American schools.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for a new kind of American domestic security revolving around armed civilians, arguing that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
"We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents," LaPierre said. "Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers. Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it, and exploit it."
LaPierre's speech was a call to supporters to mobilize around a new vision of American domestic security, at a time when voices for gun control are steadily rising. On Friday morning before the press conference, President Obama released a video (above) citing a petition by hundreds of Americans calling for swift action.
At the grassroots level, groups like Newtown United, a group of Newtown neighbors, are working to address major issues related to the tragedy, including gun control, violent media, mental health and legislation.
Many school districts across the nation, including the Wauwatosa School District, reaffirmed their commitment to safety and crisis plans after the shooting.
In stark contrast, LaPierre called for a great mobilization of gun-carrying "good guys," a term he used repeatedly but did not define, who could be more present and respond more quickly than police.
"If we truly cherish our kids, more than our money, more than our celebrities, more than our sports stadiums, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible," LaPierre said. "And that security is only available with properly trained, armed 'good guys'."
LaPierre, who was interrupted twice by protesters who held signs in front of TV cameras, made a direct call for local action.
"I call on every parent. I call on every teacher. I call on every school administrator, every law enforcement officer in this country, to join with us and help create a national schools shield safety program to protect our children with the only positive line of defense that’s tested and proven to work," he said.
In his speech, LaPierre also accused the media of selling "violence against its own people" through violent video games, music videos and "blood-soaked" films. He did not take questions from reporters, and did not acknowledge the protesters.
The New York Times reported that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York issued a statement in response calling LaPierre's proposal “a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country.”
Also according to the Times, a statement from Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, said: “It is beyond belief that following the Newtown tragedy, the National Rifle Association’s leaders wants to fill our communities with guns and arm more Americans. The NRA points the finger of blame everywhere and anywhere it can, but they cannot escape the devastating effects of their reckless comments and irresponsible lobbying tactics.”
“Everyone agrees our schools, movie theaters shopping malls, streets and communities need to be safer,” said Rep. Mike Thompson, Democrat of California, in a statement for the Times's story. “But we need a comprehensive approach that goes beyond just arming more people with more guns to make this happen.”