The National Rifle Association broke its post-Newtown massacre silence in earnest Friday with a riveting press conference in which NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre declared that the reason for mass school shootings was not the prevalence of cheap knock-offs of military weapons, but the lack of guns in schools. "Nobody has addressed the most important pressing and immediate question we face: How do we protect out children right now starting today in a way that we know works?" LaPierre said. "The only way to answer that question is to face the truth." The truth, he said, was that the lobby's opposition and its push for making schools gun-free zones had the effort to "tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimal risk." (Here's a fact-check on the actual truth.)
Two protesters interrupted the press conference, but LaPierre returned to his prepared remarks, deflecting them as much as unflinchingly as he confronted what he called "noise and anger directed at us this past week." LaPierre outlined a program the NRA is calling the "National School Shield Safety System," which would seek to place "armed police officers in every single school in the nation." After his remarks, he introduced former Congressman and U.S. attorney Asa Hutchinson to outline the lobby's program and did not take questions. NRA President David Keene said the press conference was the "beginning of a serious conversation" that would continue "on Monday." The NRA has become a focus of a countrywide gun conversation since last Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, and LaPierre is scheduled to appear on Meet the Press Sunday; Keene will appear on Face the Nation.
LaPierre referenced an idea that's been getting passed around on right-wing Facebook pages (seen at left, and more on those memes, line by line, here) — that if President Obama wants guns to protect his family, via the Secret Service, then why shouldn't regular people protect their children with guns? The press conference was interrupted twice by separate protesters from the group Code Pink, who shouted things like "Violence begins with the NRA!" and "You have blood on your hands!" LaPierre waited for them to be led out, then proceeded with his prepared remarks, even when a reporter asked him for a reaction to the protesters. "The truth is our society is populated by an unknown number of insane monsters," LaPierre Continued, adding that "the next Adam Lanza is already planning."
LaPierre also turned to often-cited movies and years-old video games (more on that here) as a "corrupting shadow industry" before airing a clip of a Flash game called Kindergarten Killers and asking why his researchers could find a game that's "been online for 10 years" while the media could not. (The NRA should like the game, because in it, the kindergarteners are armed — as pictured at right.) Then LaPierre picked up another argument that's been going around since the shooting, that silly media don't know any gun trivia. "The media calls semi-automatic weapons a "'machine gun,'" LaPierre said, pretending to be shocked. He didn't mention that one of the outlets that did this was the conservative newspaper The Washington Examiner, which did so in the process of trying to prove The New York Times was perpetuating "myths" about the AR-15, the gun Lanza used.
Here's video of the NRA's proposal:
And here are the prepared remarks from LaPierre and Hutchinson, from which they did not deviate: