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NRA's Bizarre Press Conference: 'More Guns Now!'

In his first appearance since the Sandy Hook shootings, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre rolled out a program to help schools arm "good guys," blaming gun-free school zones, video games and Obama for the tragedy.

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Using Tragedy to Sell More Guns

LaPierre went on to unveil the NRA's gift to the nation, a program to arm school personnel called The National Shield. Apparently this is what organization leaders meant when, in a brief statement announcing the upcoming press conference on Tuesday, they promised:  "The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again." Flat-screen monitors that flanked the podium showed a graphic for the program, which appeared to be styled in the manner of the offerings on the Obama-era White House Web site.

"The NRA is going to bring all of its knowledge, dedication and resources to develop a model National School Shield Emergency Response Program for every school that wants it," LaPierre said. "From armed security to building design and access control to information technology to student and teacher training, this multi-faceted program will be developed by the very best experts in their fields."

Twice during his speech, LaPierre was interrupted by protesters from CODE PINK, each of whom stood at the front of the room, before the velvet-draped barrier, some four feet high, that appeared designed to protect the NRA speakers from the press. The podium was set back some 10 or 15 feet from the barrier, evoking the sense of paranoia that drives America's gun culture.

The first sign, held up by a male protester, was a pink banner that read: "NRA KILLING OUR KIDS." After unfurling it, he was escorted out of the room by security. About 10 minutes later, CODE PINK founder Medea Benjamin stepped with her own banner: "NRA, BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS". Receiving the same treatment as the previous protester, Benjamin shouted as she was taken out the door by security personnel: "Ban assault weapons now!"

LaPierre never acknowledged the protesters, and simply returned to his prepared text after each interruption.

Although billed as a press conference, NRA President David Keene announced at the beginning that none of the speakers would take questions, before he introduced LaPierre, who simply delivered a speech rife with blame-laying -- on video games and gun-free school zones, Quentin Tarantino and President Barack Obama (the latter of whom he said had cut the budget for school security grants). LaPierre went so far as to play a clip from a video game called " Kindergarten Killer," which showed a cartoon child being shot in the head and spurting blood.

NRA security specialist scans room for potential disruptions. The barrier erected between press and the podium is seen in background.

Arming the Schools

Of gun-free school zones, LaPierre said: "Politicians pass laws for gun-free school zones. They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk."

He went on to blame politicians for the death of Sandy Hook School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, implying that she would have wielded a firearm had she been allowed to.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said.  His use of the "good guy, bad guy" language was particularly offensive, since, in her widely publicized interview with Diane Sawyer, Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Kaitlin Roig recounted using exactly those terms when  talking to her first-graders during the massacre last Friday, as she hid them in a small bathroom. She told them that there were bad guys out there, but the good guys would be coming soon.

LaPierre then turned the podium over to Asa Hutchinson, a former congressman and under secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, to outline the new NRA National School Shield program which seems designed, more than anything, to sell more guns. 

 
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