Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, made a second effort at selling his views on the Newtown school shooting massacre to the public in a contentious appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning.
Making his first public remarks since he spoke at a public relations debacle of a press conference on Friday, LaPierre stood behind his call to put armed guards in every school — one of the most widely criticized parts of his earlier appearance.
“If it’s crazy to call for armed officers in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy,” LaPierre said defiantly. “I think the American people think it’s crazy not to do it. It’s the one thing that would keep people safe.”
LaPierre also strongly suggested that the NRA would fight any new measures that would limit gun purchases, calling them ineffective and denouncing the assault weapons ban as a “phony piece of legislation.”
At one point, Gregory held up an oversized rifle magazine of the sort used by Adam Lanza in the shooting in Newtown, Conn., and asked if it was banned, “isn’t it just possible that we could reduce the carnage?”
“I don’t think it would make one difference,” LaPierre replied. Instead, LaPierre attempted to shift the conversation to felons and “lunatics” who should be arrested if they try to purchase a gun.
“I know there’s a media machine in this country that wants to blame guns every time something happens,” LaPierre said at one point. “I know there’s an anti-Second Amendment industry in this town … I’m telling you what I think will make people feel safe, and every mom and dad will make them feel better: If we have a police officer in that school, a good guy that if some horrible monster tries to do something, will be there to protect them.”
It was in many ways a reprise of the Friday press conference, in which LaPierre stunned even conservative news outlets with a remorseless diatribe that cast a wide net of blame for the shootings on just about everything but guns.
Among the causes LaPierre cited on Friday for school shootings were video games, environmental disasters and gun-free school zones.
“Politicians pass laws for gun-free school zones, and in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk,” LaPierre said at the time.
The idea of putting armed guards in schools has drawn criticism from many who point out that in at least one high-profile school shooting case, in Columbine, Colo.,there actually was an armed guard, who tried and failed to stop two students from killing more than a dozen of their classmates and one teacher.
On Sunday, LaPierre said that he was speaking for the many members of the NRA who stand behind his approach.
“I said what I honestly thought … and what hundreds of millions of people all over this country will believe will actually make a difference,” LaPierre said. “The NRA — we have 11,000 police training instructors, 80,000 police families, we’re 4 million members, and we sat down and we said, ‘What can we do that will actually make a difference today to make these kids safe?'”
During a separate interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Asa Hutchinson, the former Arkansas congressmen appointed by LaPierre to lead the group’s post-Sandy Hook shooting initiative, defended the proposal.
“I think that when you look at school safety, you’ve got to put armed guards into the equation,” Hutchinson said. “I’ve made it clear that it should not be a mandatory law, that every school has this. There should be local choice, but absolutely, I believe that protecting our children with an armed guard who is trained is an important part of the equation.”