WASHINGTON (December 21, 2012)--The nation's largest gun-rights lobby called Friday for armed police officers in every American school to stop the next killer "waiting in the wings."
The National Rifle Association broke its silence Friday on last week's shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 children and educators dead as the group's top lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre, told a Washington news conference, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
“Out of respect for those grieving families, and until the facts are known, the NRA has refrained from comment,” he said. “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?” he said.
“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,” he said.
“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 multifaceted program will be developed by the very best experts in their fields,” he said.
Former U.S. Congressman and deputy U.S. Homeland Security secretary Asa Hutchinson will lead the effort.
Hutchinson said there is no single solution to school safety, but said armed security guards should be the first line of defense.
Parents and administrators' reactions ranged from hesitation to anger over the NRA proposal to put an armed police officer in every school.
Superintendent Hank Grishman of the Jericho, N.Y. schools on Long Island said he’s outraged by the idea.
He said says putting more guns in schools won't make children safer, and could even put them in the line of more gunfire.
Parent Helen Gym in Philadelphia said she believes the proposal is "extraordinarily opportunistic."
Many of the nation's schools already do have armed school resource officers on campus.
School safety expert Ken Trump said it may prove difficult on a large scale to ensure that any armed security officer placed in a school is qualified and trained not only to operate a weapon, but also to work with children.