The National Rifle Association broke its weeklong silence following the horrific shooting of 26 people at a school in Newtown, CT and called for a surge of gun-carrying "good guys" around American schools at a news conference on Friday.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for a new kind of American domestic security revolving around armed civilians, arguing that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
"We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents," LaPierre said. "Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers. Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it, and exploit it."
LaPierre's speech was a call to supporters to mobilize around a new vision of American domestic security, at a time when voices for gun control are steadily rising. On Friday morning before the press conference, President Obama released a video (above) citing a petition by hundreds of Americans calling for swift action.
At the grassroots level, groups like Newtown United, a group of Newtown neighbors, are working to address major issues related to the tragedy, including gun control, violent media, mental health and legislation.
In stark contrast, LaPierre called for a great mobilization of gun-carrying "good guys," a term he used repeatedly but did not define, who could be more present and respond more quickly than police.
"If we truly cherish our kids, more than our money, more than our celebrities, more than our sports stadiums, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible," LaPierre said. "And that security is only available with properly trained, armed 'good guys'."
LaPierre, who was interrupted twice by protesters who held signs in front of TV cameras, made a direct call for local action.
"I call on every parent. I call on every teacher. I call on every school administrator, every law enforcement officer in this country, to join with us and help create a national schools shield safety program to protect our children with the only positive line of defense that’s tested and proven to work," he said.
In his speech, LaPierre also accused the media of selling "violence against its own people" through violent video games, music videos and "blood-soaked" films. He did not take questions from reporters, and did not acknowledge the protesters.
The Renton School District will meet with Mayor Denis Law and Police Chief Kevin Milosevich in early January to re-visit the emergency procedures and safety plan at Renton’s schools.
In the meantime the current plan — three assigned School Resource Officers — will remain the same, said School District Spokesperson Randy Matheson.
The district has had no discussion of implementing an armed security guard program, similar to the one suggested by the NRA, he said.
The School Resource Officers are on campus at certain intervals during the day and whenever extra help is needed. They are commissioned Renton Police Officers and carry the same weapons and equipment as any officer in the Department.
”We have a great working relationship with the Renton Police Department,” Matheson said. “They assist us with emergency and non-emergency situations, such as traffic control.”