The National Rifle Association broke its week-long silence this morning to call on lawmakers to offer an armed guard to every school in America to prevent tragic school shootings like the one that killed 26 people in Newtown last week.
“The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection,” CEO and executive VP Wayne LaPierre said at high-profile and combative press conference in Washington, D.C. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
The proposal appears designed to appeal to the pro-gun lobby’s base, and not to the growing number of lawmakers who have suggested their openness to more gun control, likely beginning with additional restrictions on assault weapons.
LaPierre waited until roughly 20 minutes into his press conference to unveil his school-guard proposal, dubbed the “National School Shield” program. Before he got to it, however, he cast blame on “blood-soaked films” and “vicious, violent video games” for poisoning our culture, and on lawmakers behind gun-free school zones and the “national media machine” for demonizing firearms and putting the nation’s children at risk.
During his remarks, which lasted roughly half an hour, he was interrupted twice by protesters—likely from Code Pink—who managed to sneak into the event. The first held up a sign that read “NRA KILLING OUR KIDS.” LaPierre initially continued speaking but later paused while security escorted the protester out of the room.
“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?” LaPiere said in a not-so-veiled bid to push back at President Obama’s promise to send specific proposals to Congress next month.
“The only way to answer that question is to face the truth,” LaPierre continued. “Politicians pass laws for gun-free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And, in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”
NRA officials made it clear at the start of the briefing that they would not be taking questions from reporters today. Still, LaPierre addressed the press directly in his prepared remarks, chastising the “national media machine” for providing mass killers with “wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark.” He also criticized politicians who have called for more gun-control, suggesting they “have tried to exploit the tragedy for political gain.”
The press conference comes one week after the Newtown shooting and three days after the gun lobby released a short statement promising to offer “meaningful contributions” to help ensure that what happened in Connecticut “never happens again.” Both LaPierre and NRA president David Keene are scheduled to appear on Sunday’s D.C. talk shows.
Slate will have plenty more on the NRA and its proposal shortly. In the meantime, you can read LaPierre’s full remarks here, or view a snippet below.
This post was updated at 11:57 a.m. with additional information and analysis.