Should there be an armed guard in schools?
WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation's largest gun-rights lobby is calling for armed security guards to be posted 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 staff dead.
The group's top lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre, said at a Washington news conference that, quote, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
LaPierre said his organization was willing to train and organize retired police officers, soldiers, fire fighters, medics and citizen volunteers into a corps of security guards. He called the proposed program the National School Shield Emergency Response Program.
The effort would be based on decisions made at the school district level on whether to participate. Because the guards would be volunteers, the cost to a school district nominal.
The NRA would pay for the program itself, LaPierre said.
In Portland, many high schools already have a school resource officer or police officer, but the NRA insists that every school, including elementary and middle schools, need armed guards.
A spokeswoman for the Tigard-Tualatin district disagrees. She said existing school resource officers are effective because they work as both educators and provide security.
LaPierre blamed video games, movies and music videos for exposing children to a violent culture day in and day out.
"In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes," LaPierre said.
He refused to take any questions after speaking. Still, though security was tight, two protesters were able to interrupt LaPierre's speech, holding up signs that blamed the NRA for killing children. Both were escorted out, shouting that guns in schools are not the answer.
More than a dozen security officers checked media credentials at various checkpoints and patrolled the hotel ballroom.
LaPierre announced that former Rep. Asa Hutchison, R-Ark., will lead the NRA school program.
The 4.3 million-member NRA largely disappeared from public debate after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., choosing atypical silence as a strategy as the nation sought answers after the rampage. The NRA temporarily took down its Facebook page and kept quiet on Twitter.
Since the slayings, President Barack Obama has demanded "real action, right now" against U.S. gun violence and called on the NRA to join the effort. Moving quickly after several congressional gun-rights supporters said they would consider new legislation to control firearms, the president said this week he wants proposals to reduce gun violence that he can take to Congress by January.
Obama has already asked Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and pass legislation that would stop people from purchasing firearms from private sellers without a background check. Obama also has indicated he wants Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity magazines.
Interactive: Gun control