UK & World News
School Shootings: Protests As NRA Speaks Out
America's most powerful gun lobby has defended the use of firearms and argued that armed guards could have prevented the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), called on the US Congress to immediately pass legislation to place guards with guns in schools by the time classes resume from winter breaks in January.
He said the proposal was aimed at stopping the next killer "waiting in the wings", claiming that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun".
Banks, sports stadiums, airports and court houses already have such protection, he added.
"If we truly cherish our kids more than our money, more than our celebrities ... we must give them the greatest level of protection available," Mr LaPierre added.
He argued in favour of a "model school shield" programme consisting of volunteer patrols to be implemented at every school nationwide, at any cost.
The NRA's comments came exactly a week after a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 young children, at the school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Former Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson, also speaking at the news conference, said armed, trained guards would be part of the programme but not all of it.
He said local school boards could decide on a case-by-case basis if schools should not have guards.
Mr Hutchinson called the NRA a natural choice to head up the "potentially life-saving effort" because of its gun safety, marksmanship and hunter education programmes.
Two protesters from the social justice group Code Pink interrupted the news conference, holding banners in front of Mr LaPierre and shouting that the NRA "is killing our kids".
They were quickly removed from the room.
Mr LaPierre also suggested creating a national database of those with mental health issues.
And he blasted the media and video game industries as "a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people".
The NRA's propositions come as President Barack Obama vowed to address gun control, and appointed Vice President Joe Biden to lead a working group of administration officials and outside advisers to offer recommendations by January.
Parents and administrators' reactions were ranging from hesitation to anger over the NRA proposal.
Superintendent Hank Grishman of the Jericho, New York, schools on Long Island said he was outraged by the idea.
He said putting more guns in schools will not make children safer, and could even put them in the line of more gunfire.
Parent Helen Gym in Philadelphia called it "extraordinarily opportunistic".
Many of the nation's schools already do have armed school resource police officers on campus.
On Friday morning people in Newtown and across the nation observed a moment of silence to honour the shooting victims.
Gunman Adam Lanza, 20, also killed his mother one week ago before later taking his own life at Sandy Hook Elementary school.