LaPierre’s remarks were interrupted twice by protesters, one of whom held up a sign reading, “NRA Killing Our Kids.” LaPierre and other NRA officials did not take questions from reporters but said they would be available next week.
A Week in the Making
Until the news conference Friday, the NRA had been quiet, including a period immediately after the Connecticut massacre when it did not respond to reporters’ queries and took down its social media presence.
Before LaPierre spoke, gun control groups issued pleas to NRA members to support tougher firearms laws.
“To the 74 percent of NRA members who support requiring a criminal background check of anyone purchasing a gun . . . To the 87 percent of NRA members who believe that the Second Amendment can coexist with efforts to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals . . . To all NRA members who believe like we do, that we are better than this, we send this message . . . Join us. Join us in making sure the gun violence ends now,” Daniel Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement. “We are all Americans and we all agree we are better than this.”
The NRA’s proposals won praise from Gun Owners of America, an outspoken gun rights organization that is widely seen as more conservative than the NRA and has long argued for policies that make firearms more accessible.
Richard Feldman, who as the NRA regional political director helped negotiate child safety locks with the Clinton administration, recently founded a group called the Independent Firearm Owners Association in an effort to provide a moderate alternative to the NRA. He also supports the notion of armed guards in schools.
“The only way to confront an evil person with a gun is with a good person with a gun,” he said. “If the same proposal had come from the National School Boards Association, then you would have eliminated the politics out of the issue.”
Criticism From Democrats
Although many congressional Democrats were critical of the NRA’s statement Friday, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., a former state attorney general, said she would consider the idea of having armed police officers in every school.
“My view is that that’s something that should be absolutely considered in the context of the president’s task force,” Ayotte said.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday created an administration task force, led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., charged with making recommendations on reducing gun violence by January. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday that the GOP would wait to respond to calls for legislative action on gun control until after receiving the task force’s proposals.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., another former state attorney general, called the NRA’s statement Friday “sadly and shamefully inadequate [in] calling for more guns and rejecting real action against gun violence.” Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, appeared to agree.
“The answer to increased gun violence is common-sense gun safety measures, not more guns in schools,” Harkin said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said that “the NRA’s blanket call to arm our schools is really nothing more than a distraction” and “a delay tactic.” She said a more-pressing concern is legislation she is drafting to reinstate the assault weapons ban.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.