In a chaotic press conference twice interrupted by protesters, the National Rifle Association (NRA) dismissed growing calls for a ban on assault weapons as a “dangerous notion” and warned that America’s children were “utterly defenceless” in their classrooms.
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.
Wayne LaPierre, who is the group’s top lobbyist, , said at a Washington news conference that “the next Adam Lanza,” the man responsible for last week’s mayhem, is planning an attack on another school.
According to the Reuters, the slaughter of so many young children has rekindled fierce debate about U.S. gun laws. This week, some lawmakers called for swift passage of an assault-weapons ban and President Barack Obama commissioned a task force to find a way to quell violence, a challenge in a nation with a strong culture of gun ownership.
“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 defenceless,” Mr LaPierre said. “The monsters and the predators in the world know it and exploit it.”
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said at a news briefing, calling on lawmakers to station armed police officers in all schools by the time children return from the Christmas break in January.
LaPierre actually blamed the news media and violent video games for what had happened at the Sandy Hook massacre, the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. His remarks were twice interrupted by protesters who unfurled signs and shouted “stop the killing.”
About 50 pro-gun-control protesters rallied outside the downtown hotel where the NRA held its event.
He refused to take any questions after speaking. Still, though security was tight, two protesters were able to interrupt LaPierre’s speech, holding up signs that accused the NRA for killing children. Both were escorted out, shouting that guns in schools are not the answer.
Public relations professionals said the timing of his message, which broke a week of silence in the wake of the tragic murder of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, could be an irredeemable mistake for the group.
Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City and a champion of gun control, described the press conference as “a shameful evasion of the crisis” facing the US.
The Huff Post writes, the organization is one of the nation’s most powerful lobby groups, but its extreme policy positions don’t jibe with all gun owners, many of whom support tighter gun-control laws, according to a survey from a prominent Republican pollster in July.
The NRA remains a potent force in US politics, donating millions of dollars to both Democrats and Republicans in order to secure their opposition to gun laws.
Obama has already asked Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and pass legislation that would stop people from purchasing firearms from private sellers without a background check. Obama also has indicated he wants Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity magazines.
The National Rifle Association called for armed guards in every school as a reaction to last week’s massacre in Newtown, Conn., prompting an immediate backlash from social media users on Friday.
During and after the press conference where the plan was unveiled, NRA-related hashtags dominated Twitter trends across the United States, reports the Mashable.