Earlier today, National Rifle Association C.E.O. Wayne LaPierre and other leaders from the gun group held a much-anticipated press conference to react to the ongoing controversy surrounding the shootings at a Sandy Hook elementary school one week ago. For those hoping for a grand speech, Mr. LaPierre certainly didn’t disappoint. In the address, Mr. LaPierre pushed back hard against those calling for additional gun control measures while accusing the media of being “silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators” in the violence. He also seemed to hold a host of other entities and events responsible, such as Hurricane Sandy.
“Violent crime is increasing again for the first time in 19 years,” Mr. LaPierre said. “Add another hurricane, terrorist attack or some other natural or man-made disaster, and you’ve got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization. And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal. There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games with names like ‘Bulletstorm,’ ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Mortal Kombat,’ and ‘Splatterhouse.’…A thousand music videos, and you all know this, portray life as a joke and portray murder, portray murder, as a way of life. And then they all have the nerve to call it ‘entertainment.’ But is that what it really is? Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?”
Mr. LaPierre then accused the media of financially profiting from these digital forms of violence, which result not only in unfair coverage of the gun industry, but causes the bloodshed itself.
“In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing in an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes, every minute, every day, every hour of every single year,” he continued. “A child growing up in America today witnesses 16,000 murders and 2,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18. And throughout it all, too many in the national media, their corporate owners and their stockholders, act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize gun-owners.”
Mr. LaPierre and the other NRA leaders at the press conference did not take questions at the press conference. Protesters twice interrupted the proceedings with chants of “The NRA has blood on its hands…ban assault weapons now!” and “NRA Stop Killing our children!” Though reporters in attendance tried to ask Mr. LaPierre to respond to the protesters, he continued with his remarks.
The N.R.A. head didn’t only have criticisms, however, as he also proposed solutions, including eliminating “Gun-Free School Zones” and putting an armed security officer in every single school in America.
“With all the foreign aid the United States does, with all of the money in the federal budget, can’t we afford to put a police officer in every single school? Even if they did that, politicians have no business and no authority denying us the right, the ability and the moral imperative to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harmed,” Mr. LaPierre argued. “We can immediately make America’s schools safer, relying on the brave men and women in America’s police forces. The budgets–you all know this, everyone in the country knows this–of our local police departments are strained, and the resources are severely limited. But their dedication and courage is second to none and they can be deployed right now. I call on Congress today, to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation! And to do it now! ”
In order to facilitate getting armed guards into American schools, Mr. LaPierre announced the launch of an NRA “National School Shield” program spearheaded by former congressman Asa Hutchinson that will help advise officials on how to properly secure their schools. He said this program will not be a strain on budgets because it will involve volunteer guards.
“This will be a program that does not depend upon massive funding from local authorities or the federal government. Instead, it will make use of local volunteers serving in their own communities,” Mr. LaPierre said. “The National Rifle Association is the obvious choice to sponsor this program. ”
With mounting calls for gun control measures, it remains to be seen whether politicians will be willing to take the NRA up on their offer to put armed volunteers in schools.
Additional reporting from Hunter Walker