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NRA's Wayne LaPierre cringe-worthy press conference on gun violence

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WASHINGTON -- A week after the Sandy Hook school massacre, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre's answer to the latest gun tragedy in the nation was a call to arms.

At a press conference on Friday, LaPierre, who runs the powerful gun rights lobby, urged Congress to pay for armed guards in every school. He blamed the media and the video game industry for gun violence and did not call for any new restrictions on gun owners or buyers.

"The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," he said.

The next mass killer is already "waiting in the wings" with an attack on a school already planned, LaPierre said, condemning "gun-free school zones" as magnets for "every insane killer in America."

LaPierre's performance at his press conference was cringe-worthy, with his belligerence remarkable in the wake of the slaughter in Newtown, Conn., which left 27 victims, plus the shooter.

The NRA had pitched the press conference as its opportunity to make a "meaningful contribution" to curb gun violence. "Anyone who thought the NRA was going to come out today and make a commonsense statement about meaningful reform and safety was kidding themselves," said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.).

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a national crusader in curbing gun violence, summed up LaPierre's strange approach well: "Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe," Bloomberg said.

Beefing up school security might be a good idea -- but does anyone think Congress is going to bankroll more armed guards?

As Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) noted after LaPierre spoke, there were two armed guards who tried to stop the shooters at Columbine who could not prevent 15 people killed and 23 wounded.

Sad to say -- and LaPierre ignored this -- shooters have killed and wounded people in a lot more places than elementary schools, gunning down in recent years victims at high schools, sprawling college campuses, outside a supermarket, a Sikh temple and in a theater.

LaPierre was critical that there has been no national move to create "an active national database of the mentally ill" given that "the truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters, people that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them," he said.

But even if we as a society decided to take him up on that suggestion, what good would that database do without more background checks on gun buyers and closing the gun show loophole which allows purchasers to avoid any background checks.

"The NRA's blanket call to arm our schools is really nothing more than a distraction. It's a delay tactic. It's a distraction from the availability of military-style assault weapons on our streets, in our schools, used at malls, used at workplaces, used in movie theaters," Feinstein said.

Vice President Joe Biden is leading an Obama administration task force to come up with proposals -- in just a few weeks -- to curb gun violence. Perhaps a suggestion should be to deal with violent video games manufacturers and with this LaPierre and the Biden team may find some common ground.

Seeking to spread the blame -- and take attention away from the NRA -- LaPierre said the "dirty little truth that the media try the best to conceal" is the violent video game industry exists.

As for the distraction Feinstein mentioned, an example is this: At a time people want to hear about how to stop gun violence, LaPierre beat up on the press. "Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize lawful gun owners."

A strong voice of sanity belongs to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), whose husband was killed and son wounded by a crazed gunman on a Long Island commuter train -- who with Feinstein is sponsoring assault weapons ban legislation.

Said McCarthy, "the NRA's leadership had an opportunity to help unite the nation behind efforts to reduce gun violence and avert massacres . . . but it instead showed a disconnect between it and the majority of the American people."

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 21, 2012 10:17 PM.

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