Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association
(CBS NEWS) -- In a press conference reflecting on last week's massacre in Newtown,
Conn., the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre today insisted
that increased gun laws would not have prevented the violence that
felled 20 first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School -- and instead
called on Congress to send armed police officers in every school in
LaPierre, whose remarks were interrupted twice
by pro-gun control protesters, disdained the notion that stricter gun
laws could have prevented "monsters" like Adam Lanza from committing
mass shootings, and wondered why schools, unlike banks, don't have the
protection of armed forces.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," he said.
out a proposal to help governments train and provide security at
schools, Lapierre argued that children should benefit from the same
protection Congress members enjoy.
"We must speak
for the safety of our nation's children," said LaPierre. "We care about
our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports,
office buildings, power plants, courthouses, even sports stadiums, are
all protected by armed security. We care about our president, so we
protect him with armed Secret Service agents.
Members of Congress works
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
"That must change now," argued Lapierre, moments
before being interrupted by a protester carrying a large pink sign
proclaiming that the "NRA is killing our kids."
a statement announcing the press conference earlier this week, the NRA
broke its post-Newtown silence to say it was "prepared to offer
meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."
Wednesday, President Obama announced the creation of a task force aimed
at providing actionable policy ideas to prevent or reduce gun violence
Vice President Joe Biden, a key author of the
1994 Assault Weapons Ban, will helm the task force, and cabinet members
and outside groups will be called on for ideas and contributions.
believe that in the wake of the tragedy, the political will to
reinstate the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, will increase.
The president long has supported a ban, but exerted little effort to
get it passed during his first term.
According to White House spokesman
Jay Carney, Mr. Obama also would support closing a "gun show loophole"
allowing people to buy arms from private dealers without background
checks, and would be interested in legislation limiting high-capacity
Even while the president has acknowledged the
political difficulties associated with gun laws, he said this week that
the complexity of the problem "can no longer be an excuse for doing
Unlike in the cases of previous mass murders,
new evidence suggests Americans increasingly support tougher gun control
in the wake of the Newtown massacres. According to a recent CBS News
poll, support for stricter gun laws is the highest it's been in a
decade, surging 18 points since the spring of this year.
to that poll, conducted Dec. 14 - 16, 57 percent of Americans now say
gun control laws should be made more strict. That's up 10 points from
January 2011 -- following the shooting of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
in Arizona -- when a CBS News poll found that 47 percent of Americans
backed stricter gun laws. In April of this year, just 39 percent of
Americans supported stricter gun laws.
In a statement
today, Daniel Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
Violence, urged NRA members to "join us" in fighting to end gun
"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 2nd 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," he wrote. "Join us
in making sure the gun violence ends now. We are all Americans and we
all agree we are better than this."