The United States' largest gun rights lobby says it wants to address gun violence by placing armed police officers in every school in America, in a suggestion swiftly denounced by Democrats.
The executive vice president of the powerful National Rifle Association, or NRA, said tragedies like the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week could be prevented by armed security, adding that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
The NRA's Wayne LaPierre spoke Friday in Washington, one week after 26 people were gunned down at the school in Newtown, Connecticut. He also blamed the movies and video games for exposing U.S. children to a violent culture.
Shortly after the news conference, two Democratic senators called the group's response to the Newtown tragedy shameful and a delay tactic.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has said she will introduce legislation on reauthorizing an assault weapons ban, called the NRA's message “nothing more than a distraction” aimed at stalling a real conversation about gun control.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, who represents Connecticut, called the NRA statement “shamefully inadequate.” He said the refrain he heard from the people of Newtown, the rest of his state and the country is that the government needs “to do something about the guns.”
The NRA news conference was disrupted twice by protesters who blamed the group for gun violence. One protester held up a banner to the cameras that said, “NRA killing our kids.”
Earlier, President Barack Obama and other Americans paused to remember those killed a week ago. Church bells rang in Newtown and other U.S. towns and cities as mourners stood in silence.
The December 14 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary was the second-worst school shooting in U.S. history.
After the attack, President Obama said action is needed to prevent such a tragedy in the future. He has called on Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban that lapsed in 2004. The gunman in the Newtown attack used a military-style weapon.
The worst U.S. school shooting occurred in 2007, when a gunman opened fire at a Virginia university, killing 32 people before taking his own life.