The National Rifle Association broke its silence Friday, speaking for the first time since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting a week ago, declaring armed guards in schools is "the only way" to protect America's children, and unveiling a new plan it says will keep schools safe.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre chastised the media response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and eight adults dead, as well as the conventional thinking that armed guards are appropriate for airports, power plants, courthouse, and sports stadiums, but not schools.
He outlined a new "The National School Shield" education and training program for schools nationwide, to be headed by former Arkansas Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson, also a veteran of the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre says. "When you hear the glass breaking at 3 a.m. and you 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."
LaPierre pointed to what he says is a double standard in the armed guards that protect the president and members of Congress, but not children in schools.
"It's not just our duty to protect them, it's our right to protect them," he says. "With all the foreign aid the U.S. does, with all the money in the federal budget, can't we afford to put a police officer in every single school? Even if we did that, politicians have no business to deny us the ability and the moral imperative to protect us and our loved ones from harm."
LaPierre referenced "vicious, violent" video games, citing Grand Theft Auto, Bullet Storm, Mortal Kombat, and Splatterhouse, as components of a "callous and corrupt shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people."
This is a "dirty little truth that the media tries best to conceal," he says, lambasting journalists for also misrepresenting terms such as "machine guns" and the power of certain munitions calibers.
He called on the government to act immediately to put in place blanket safety policies for when children return to school in January. To assist with this effort, the NRA has put forward a new "model security plan" on which all school districts can base their protective efforts.
Hutchinson followed LaPierre's remarks to discuss the "team of experts" he plans to put together to create a comprehensive strategy for school security.
This template would provide the best practices and principles for every American school, which can then "tweak as needed" and apply.
"Armed, trained, qualified school security personnel will be an element of that plan, but it will not be the only element," he says. Schools could decide to opt out of having armed security guards, he says.
The plan would not draw on "massive federal funding," he says, but rather make use of local volunteers, such as retired police officers, emergency responders, firefighters and military veterans.
Neither LaPierre nor Hutchinson took questions following the press conference. Code Pink protesters twice interrupted LaPierre's remarks, blocking him from camera with signs and shouting slogans.
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Paul D. Shinkman is a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.