December 21st, 2012
01:42 PM ET
1 year ago

NRA comments draw swift opposition in reactions

(CNN) – In the hours after the much-anticipated remarks Friday morning by the National Rifle Association responding to last week's deadly shooting at a Connecticut school, political figures weighed in, largely disagreeing with the organization's comments.

NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre spoke to reporters without taking questions and pointed to the no-weapons policies at schools that put children's lives at risk, calling for armed officers at every school.

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Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele called the NRA's remarks "very haunting and very disturbing."

"I don't even know where to begin," Steele said on MSNBC after the NRA's statement. "As a supporter of the Second Amendment and a supporter of the NRA, even though I'm not a member of the NRA, I just found it very haunting and very disturbing that our country now that are talking about arming our teachers and our principals in classrooms. I do not believe that's where the American people want to go."

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told reporters in Newark Friday morning he doesn't agree that placing armed guards in schools would effectively deter violence, according to a Bergen Record report.

"In general I don't think that the solution to safety in schools is putting an armed guard because for it to be really effective in my view, from a law enforcement perspective, you have to have an armed guard at every classroom," he said. "Because if you just have an armed guard at the front door then what if this guy had gone around to the side door? There's many doors in and out of schools."

Christie said his comments were not specific to the NRA's proposal as he had not yet seen the statement.

Outspoken gun-control advocate New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the statement "a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country."

"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," he said. "Enough. As a country, we must rise above special interest politics."

Democratic congressman and senator-elect Chris Murphy, whose congressional district includes Newtown, tweeted a sharp reaction from Connecticut after the group's comments: "Walking out of another funeral and was handed the NRA transcript. The most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen."

At a House Democratic press conference on Capitol Hill after the NRA's statement, leader Nancy Pelosi read Murphy's tweet, adding the NRA's proposal of armed officers in schools "just doesn't make sense." House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said he doesn't believe the NRA's views are representative of the organization's members, and Rep. Joseph Crowley from New York called the group's proposal "irrational."

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, a Democrat from New York, whose husband was one of six killed and her son seriously injured in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting, said she was "saddened by what I saw today."

"The NRA's leadership had an opportunity to help unite the nation behind efforts to reduce gun violence and avert massacres like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School but it instead showed a disconnect between it and the majority of the American people," she said in a statement.

In statements following LaPierre's comments, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat from New Jersey, called LaPierre's comments "reckless." And Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California, said in assigning blame to others, LaPierre "showed himself to be completely out of touch by ignoring the proliferation of weapons of war on our streets."

Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and husband to former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was seriously injured in a shooting in Tuscon last year, expressed disappointment in the NRA's remarks in a post to his Facebook page.

"The NRA could have chosen to be a voice for the vast majority of its own members who want common sense, reasonable safeguards on deadly firearms, but instead it chose to defend extreme pro-gun positions that aren't even popular among the law abiding gun owners it represents," Kelly said.

Twenty children and six adults died after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, sparking grief, shock and calls for a renewed look at U.S. gun laws.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that Vice President Joe Biden will lead an administration effort to develop recommendations no later than January for preventing another tragedy like last week's school shooting.

Until Friday, the NRA refrained from commenting in the week following the shooting out of respect for the families and victims of the tragedy, according to LaPierre and the organization. The NRA called on former U.S. congressman Asa Hutchinson to lead the proposed National Model School Shield Program.


Filed under: 2012 • Gun rights • NRA
soundoff (904 Responses)
  1. IQ173

    you all should be ragging on Congress and the Obummer administration for what they are about to do to this country rather than the NRA,you people are pathetic in all respects...!

    December 21, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. Asa

    My wife is a teacher in an urban core school. She has to buy COPIER PAPER with money from her paycheck to make handouts for the kids frequently because the districts don't have the $. Where would money come from for armed guards?

    She said IF that money were there, a much better use of it would be to have a school psychologist for every school. There is ONE for the entire district... which one? The Phoenix Union High School Disctrict in AZ. I can't say I disagree and I have had my CCW for over a decade. I'm very pro-firearms and grew up in the USMC. It's time for a change.

    December 21, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. daveyb

    You will never stop a mental mind..If I really wanted to kill my ex wife in a premeditated murder, even in Canada it would take months, but id find a gun and kill her..but in the states it is so easy to get a gun, its the mental "snap" that makes too manu innocents die. There is a few times in my life in Calgary I have had some road rage, and if I had a gun rack with two rifles, and a beretta in my glove box..get my point..

    December 21, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. nancheska

    Jon, re: protecting our children....my daughter's got 3 of the "city's finest" out in front of her school....every day...been there a long time. I have no problem w/ the armed cops being there. There are metal detectors in other city schools in our district (though not my daughter's). One issue is that many school districts cannot afford police details at their schools. The other issue: if we really want to protect our kids, let's teach them to act right, think of others (besides just themselves), have them learn martial arts, eat well, avoid drugs 'n booze. What about teachers? Even if a teacher were trained to use an automatic or semi-auto weapon, there's a very good chance that the wrong people will get injured. Remember those SWAT cops who were trying to take out the guy shooting up people @ the Empire State Bldg? Innocent people got shot in the crossfire. Perp got away, and these were HIGHLY trained pros trying to take the assassin out.

    December 21, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. walleye46

    We can disguise these armed guards with camouflage so they look like blackboards, or hall monitors. Then they wont scare the life out of a 6 year old when he sees them standing there with their AK47's. NRA mentality is the same as Hitlers.

    December 21, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. alibabba

    American does not need the NRA. America needs sensible legislators to protect our 2nd. amendment rights by allowing ownership of firearms that are non-military assault weapons. It's time to send the NRA packing.

    December 21, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. Willy

    Sometimes the obvious is alarming. We have people who will go to any extreme to kill us and our children with any weapon imaginable legal or not. To leave schools unprotected is a nice ideal but not realistic. This isn't really so much about guns as there are mnay others ways to kill many people easily and they are used. So, I would rather at least attempt to protect my child as diligently as my money in a friggin bank with armed guards. It is not a rosey picture but life is dangerous...always has been and will be. Disney is not where we live.

    December 21, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. BMoore

    Debate all you want about background checks, assault rifle bans and the rest, but explain to me how the proposal to place an armed, trained police officer in each school is somehow irresponsible or "a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country." There is a police officer in every middle and high school in our school district in South Carolina, and I believe in every school district in the state. I would have no problem adding an officer to every elementary school, too. I have no doubt that such an officer would have been able to stop this 20 year-old kid in Newtown, but this suggestion (which is now even support by the likes of MoveOn.org) has to be the most logical and attainable first step among many that should have been taken a long time ago. Too costly? That's ridiculous!!!

    December 21, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  9. pete

    So for $5/hour someone is going to lay his life on the line when some guy armed like a SEAL starts shooting. Why wouldn't the guard just run for safety like everyone else?

    December 21, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. Nitin

    Is this Afghanistan or US. Armed guard at schools? Should they have assault rifles? Consider the attackers will have assault rifles we probably need mounted machine guns with protective armors. Probably that will solve it.

    December 21, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. Greg

    ....And the NRA laughs all the way to the Bank!

    December 21, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. tclutinger

    Apocalypse of Common Sense ... (The world didn't end today but common sense may have).

    NRA VP LaPierre’s proposal would add armed guards to approx. 135,000 K-12 schools. Hey LaPierre ... what about movie theaters, grocery stores, gas stations, malls, offices ... why not every street corner? Does this guy accurately embody the viewpoint of the vast majority of the sensible gun-owners he is supposed to represent? I don’t think he does and implore the general members to demand better leadership.

    Watching his Press Conference was shockingly scary and made me sick to my stomach. LaPierre came-off as angry and paranoid, as he assigned blame to everyone else (media, game makers, and all “crazy monsters” out there) but took no responsibility for the NRA what-so-ever. Instead, LePierre was incredulous that anyone could blame the NRA for any part of the recent atrocities.

    LePierre didn’t talk about improving the level and effectiveness of background checks and waiting periods by linking the legal & mental health systems info in a real-time national database that could better prevent guns from being sold to those people who should not have them. I can’t believe the vast majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would have any problem in increasing these common sense security measures.

    There could also be a requirement of training that provides a certification (or license) that must be achieved by passing a test before a permit is issued to own a gun. The NRA is uniquely qualified to lead this national education and registration program, however LePierre missed that opportunity completely today. Why isn’t there a similar process to obtaining a Driver’s License? It’s not thought of as too restrictive to expect a person to learn to drive by qualifying for a Driver’s License. We also expect the car they are driving to be registered to the owner, who then carries a responsibility for that car. A similar system should exist for gun owners and their guns.

    Furthermore, different types of guns and ammunition should be classified into separate groups with separate license and registration requirements in manner similar to the system of Driver’s License Classes. For example, a driver of a hazardous materials truck has a far different level of training and qualifications than the standard Class C driver. Semi-Automatics and high-capacity ammunition cartridges are certainly prime candidates for that type of class segregation. The NRA should be a proactive force by proposing the guidelines for a class structure that appropriately segregated intended use, skill level required and potential danger levels of misuse.

    The Right to Bear Arms should be reserved for those people who have demonstrated that they are worthy of this privilege. The NRA could seize this opportunity and be a positive force of change through its leadership. The NRA could take-on a parallel role of education and regulation to that of the DMV. The NRA membership should seriously think about what they want their legacy to be. There is an opportunity to completely change public perception of what NRA really stands for and bring the nation together on this greatly divided issue. LePierre’s comments today were very poorly thought-out, he had a golden opportunity to promote peace, compassion, understanding and healing, instead he threw truckloads of gas on the gun control bonfire with his lecture to America.

    The membership of the NRA should demand more from its leaders!

    December 21, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. ingyandbert

    The NRA is not just dangerously out touch; it's just plain dangerous.

    December 21, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. Horave

    What makes LaPierre think an armed guard would make any difference? Columbine had an armed guard plus a police officer in one minute as he happened to be on patrol in the area. If some security guard went out to confront Lanza he would have been dead just like the Principal. Confronting an individual armed with something like an AR-15 is the job of a SWAT team, not a sleepy security guard or an pistol packing elementary school teacher without law enforcement experience.

    Columbine result? 15 dead and 23 wounded.

    High capacity weapons have no purpose in the midst of modern society.

    Get rid of them, and sure beef up basic security at schools with things like stronger entry doors and door cameras. But please, with the weaponry that is available to these lunatics don't think a security guard is going to have a chance.

    December 21, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. TNPatriot

    I was watching the NRA press conference, and the suggestion that Congress should immediately provide funding to put a police officer in every school in America. It's not enough that the Congress can't get out of it's own way to address the budget issue, the loudest voices in the GOP are demanding spending cuts. So how does the NRA expect Congress to find a way to support spending $4.75Trillion a year to pay for ONE Police Officer in every one of America's 132,183 schools ?(NOT include post secondary schools) I sure didn't hear the NRA suggest that they will help fund this plan.

    December 21, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. commonsense

    Armed guards works at airports and banks. Are the leftists saying that our children are less important than money and airplanes? My kids see guards all the time, so seeing them at school will not scare or distract them. Armed guards...not a new concept but a proven one. At my grammar school in Chicago 20+ years ago there were always 2 armed policement sitting in an office all day long. Same with my Chicago high school. Guess what, there were never massacres at those schools.

    December 21, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  17. hr

    For All of those who go on about gun rights and gun safety and the right to protect yourself. . . Who protects the rest of us from you and your fascination with violent toys?

    From (LA Times December 8, 2012) A father shot and killed his 7-year-old son Saturday morning outside a Pennsylvania gun store in what police described as a tragic accident, authorities said.

    The Pennsylvania State Police are investigating the death as an accidental shooting and are awaiting the results of an autopsy.
    ...
    “It’s just a tragedy — it’s terrible,” State Trooper Robert Perrine told the Los Angeles Times He declined to comment further.

    The shooting occurred Saturday morning in the parking lot of Twigs Reloading Den in Mercer. Police said the gun fired as Joseph Loughrey, 44, and his son Craig were entering their vehicle.

    The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Loughrey told police he had emptied the magazine of his 9-millimeter Taurus handgun, and he didn’t know there was a bullet in the chamber. The gun discharged and his son was struck in the chest.

    –Would they say it was "just" at tragedy if I brought a bomb in my house?

    December 21, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  18. abe

    I guarantee that if any parent in America heard that there was an ongoing mass shooting at their kids school they would pray that there was a police officer there.

    December 21, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  19. Chris

    In a shocker, the NRA's response to gun violence is...more guns!

    December 21, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  20. Claire

    While we're at it, let's have armed guards in schools, universities, libraries, grocery stores, hospitals, movie theaters, recreation centers, malls, nursing homes, playgrounds, post offices, churches, rehabilitation centers and parking lots and everywhere else that human beings congregate because that's how we'll stay safe, right?

    December 21, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  21. gary

    what a bunch of morons the NRA has as it's leaders. that was my belief after watching their morons reading their propagander statement.

    December 21, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  22. Safety Concerned Parent

    From the time I heard about the incident I said the Principal's and a % of teachers/personnel should be armed. Nothing easier to hit than a school. There is no one there to stop you. Sitting ducks. And we advertise and promote it.

    I think your article is way off. From training in college, all surveys can be skewed to reflect the opinion of the person administering the survey. CNN is a more liberal media source so the majority of people stating their opinions are more likely to be liberal and for more gun control. If Fox news were to do the same survey asking for opinions, you would see more posts agreeing with the measure of arming school personnel, as they are more conservative.

    Speaking from a parents viewpoint...I want my children safe and obviously the school systems are unable to handle that obligation at the current moment.

    I still don't understand why more attention has not been given to mental health issues as so many with mental problems are only treated for a few weeks then tossed back on the street, uncapable of taking care of themselves, and/or families who are aware of their loved ones having issues are limited to resources available to them to help. I think this should be receiving more attention.

    December 21, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. Richard Ryder

    OMG....this guy Wayne La Pierre has to be the biggest fool on the face of the earth!! They pretty much stood by the guns, pun intended, and issued something to divert from the real story...the NRA promotes gun ownership, plain and simple! They don't want anyone touching their precious "rights". What La Pierre said today was insulting and very ugly and a slap to the grieving familes. He could have come out and said something like, "let's look at better background checks, or eliminate the gun show loophole.", something with teeth. What he said was supposed to be some help, but instead further insulated the NRA from the general public. We should not allow 4 million people decide the course of the country. Now is the time for the other 250 million to step up and squash this renegade bunch of "little boys" and their toys. Shame on the NRA, shame on Wayne La Pierre. He squandered a real opportunity for dialogue here, and instead opens up a real chasm.

    December 21, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  24. A Bush master in every pot

    Whoa, NRA, that was a dud

    December 21, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  25. Eric

    I guess it's ok to have armed guards at some schools but not other (yes people, some schools already have armed guards). This is the problem with many people in this country, they want their cake and eat it too. The level of gross exageration in some of these posts is ridiculous and a perfect example of why there can't be a civil conversation on ANY SUBJECT in this country. Until people can take it down a notch nothing of serious consequence will be resolved in this county.

    December 21, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
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