This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
This is a reprint of an article that originally appeared in Education Week.
by Andrew Ujifusa
The National Rifle Association today called for a national school safety program that would involve training in security procedures and armed security personnel when called for and desired by local school districts, in a press conference in Washington.
NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne R. LaPierre said that such a program of arming the "good guys" would prepare schools to confront those like Adam Lanza, who killed 26 students and school workers and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14. Asa Hutchinson, a former Drug Enforcement Agency chief and former congressman, will lead an NRA-funded initiative, which LaPierre said would provide the security program free of charge for any school that desires it.
He also called for Congress to "appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school," and to do it by the time school resumes in January.
LaPierre also decried calls for more gun control in the wake of the Newtown shooting, as well as a national media and "political class" that purveys misinformation about guns and too often wastes time on legislation and gun control regulation that he said was not proven to work. Early in the press conference, he said that if the country agrees it is right to put armed security personnel in banks, sports stadiums and around the president, it should agree to implement the same, "only proven" security for school children. (He also took the opportunity to criticize President Barack Obama for eliminating the "Secure Our Schools" policing grants from the upcoming budget.)
"If we truly cherish our kids more than our money or our celebrities, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible and the security that is only available with a properly trained — armed — good guy," LaPierre said.
He also decried violent video games and films, saying that the average American witnesses 16,000 murders through such media by the time he or she turns 18. At one point, he showed a screen display of a video game called "Kindergarten Killers" (in which the player shoots people inside a school building) in support of his argument. In addition, he said the lack of an national database of the mentally ill made it impossible to know how many more "killers" were planning their next attack and planning to exploit national media attention.
Neither LaPierre, NRA president David Keene, nor Hutchinson took questions at the press conference. Hutchinson said that the NRA’s sponsored school security plan would have armed security personnel as one component, but would not be essential for local school boards who did not want them. The plan would also deal with technical issues like building design and access points to help improve security even without armed personnel.
Twice during the press conference, protesters stood in front of cameras and held up banners accusing the NRA of being complicit in the murder of children. They were quickly escorted out by security at the event.