Updated with Code Pink protester interview at 1:35 PM EST
The National Rifle Association remained mum, its executive vice president said today, while others sought to politically exploit the shootings of 20 children and six educators at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, one week ago.
Today, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre spoke out at a downtown Washington hotel — and lashed out at the American media for overlooking the violent video-games that permeate society and mis-characterizing firearms and their use in the United States.
This is a nation that defends all it cares about — its banks, its courthouses, its sports arenas, the president and Congress — with armed guards, LaPierre said in a statement at which NRA President David Keene said no questions would be taken.
“The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of protection,” LaPierre said. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
The NRA had said it would offer a proposal today to address gun violence in the U.S. LaPierre’s solution: “a cordon of protection” around the nation’s schools.
LaPierre was interrupted twice by protesters in the audience who rose with banners.
The first, a red banner reading “NRA Killing Our Kids,” was held close to the speaker, obscuring him from the audience and the television cameras covering the event at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. The man holding it for Codepink.com was hauled out by a security agent , the protester yelling, “End the arming, end the violence, stop the killing.” The second, reading “NRA Blood on Your Hands,” was held by a woman hauled out yelling, “Ban assault weapons.”
Medea Benjamin, who was escorted out of the hotel, addressed some 50 protesters outside. Benjamin, co-director of the Code Pink activist group, allowed that she had been “naïve” to think the Newtown shootings would prompt any change of course from the NRA.
“Going in there, it was just a feeling that there was fear all around,” said Benjamin. “I don’t want to live in a society of fear, and the more guns we have, the more fearful we have to be. I think this twisted logic of the NRA that more guns are somehow going to make us feel more protected and safer is something we have to stand up to.”
LaPierre ignored both protests, as he did questions called out.
“For all the noise and anger directed at us over the past week, no one, nobody, has addressed the most important, pressing and immediate question we face,” he said. “How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works? The only way we answer that question is to face the truth.”
Lawmakers have required gun-free zones around schools, he said. The effect, he argued, has been to advertise to “every insane killer” that schools are the place to inflict maximum damage. “We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards,” he said — the same goes for airports, courthouses, stadiums, all protected. “We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents.” Congress convenes protected by an armed security force.
What the schools need, he said, is “an army of good guys.”
Emma Fidel contributed to this report.