NRA: Schools Need ‘Security Blanket’

Photograph by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A Fairfax County police officer at West Springfield High School in Springfield, Virginia.

Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association spokesman who proposes arming the guards of the nation’s schools in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings, will call on Congress tomorrow to lay a “blanket of security” with a School Shield Program.

“We joined the nation in sorrow over the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut,” LaPierre plans to say, according to a copy of his testimony released by the NRA today. “There is nothing more precious than our children. We have no more sacred duty than to protect our children and keep them safe. ”

The executive vice president of the organization representing gun owners and manufacturers plans a more measured appeal than the initial remarks he made in Washington a week after the massacre of 20 first-grade schoolchildren and six educators in Connecticut. There is less railing against the media in his prepared remarks, more pointed defense of a few notions: Background checks for gun-owners are not a universal solution, because criminals don’t get those checks, and semi-automatic weapons like the Bushmaster carried into Sandy Oak Elementary School have been around for 100 years. It’s not the guns, he maintains, it’s the people carrying them who are a threat.

“It’s time to throw an immediate blanket of security around our children,” he plans to say at a congressional hearing on what the nation should do about gun violence tomorrow. “About a third of our schools have armed security already – because it works. And that number is growing. Right now, state officials, local authorities and school districts in all 50 states are considering their own plans to protect children in their schools.”

“In addition,” he will say, “we need to enforce the thousands of gun laws that are currently on the books. Prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms works. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a dramatic collapse in federal gun prosecutions in recent years. Overall in 2011, federal weapons prosecutions per capita were down 35 percent from their peak in the previous administration. That means violent felons, gang members and the mentally ill who possess firearms are not being prosecuted. And that’s unacceptable.”

“I think we can also agree that our mental health system is broken. We need to look at the full range of mental health issues, from early detection and treatment, to civil commitment laws, to privacy laws that needlessly prevent mental health records from being included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”

“We need to be honest about what works and what does not work,” he will say. “Proposals that would only serve to burden the law-abiding have failed in the past and will fail in the future. Semi-automatic firearms have been around for over 100 years.  They are among the most popular guns made for hunting, target shooting and self-defense. Despite this fact, Congress banned the manufacture and sale of hundreds of semi-automatic firearms and magazines from 1994 to 2004. Independent studies, including a study from the Clinton Justice Department, proved that ban had no impact on lowering crime.”

“And when it comes to the issue of background checks, let’s be honest – background checks will never be “universal” – because criminals will never submit to them.

“But there are things that can be done and we ask you to join with us,” LaPierre will say– “the immediate protection for all, not just some, of our school children, swift, certain prosecution of criminals with guns and fixing our broken mental health system.

“We love our families and our country.  We believe in our freedom,” the NRA leader will say. “We’re the millions of Americans from all walks of life who take responsibility for our own safety and protection as a God-given, fundamental right. ”


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