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NRA Calls for 'Armed Security' Around Schools

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," the NRA's Wayne LaPierre said.

In an amazing Friday morning press conference in Washington DC, the National Rifle Association broke its weeklong silence following the horrific shooting of 26 people at a school in Newtown, CT and called for a surge of gun-carrying "good guys" around American schools.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for a new kind of American domestic security revolving around armed civilians, arguing that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

"We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents," LaPierre said. "Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers. Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it, and exploit it."

LaPierre's speech was a call to supporters to mobilize around a new vision of American domestic security, at a time when voices for gun control are steadily rising. On Friday morning before the press conference, President Obama released a video (above) citing a petition by hundreds of Americans calling for swift action.

At the grassroots level, groups like Newtown United, a group of Newtown neighbors, are working to address major issues related to the tragedy, including gun control, violent media, mental health and legislation.

Locally, school districts already have taken action to keep schools safe.

On Friday afternoon, James Cromie, communications director for Keystone Oaks School District, said he had not seen the NRA's statement yet and couldn't comment on it directly. However, he said, school police officer Aaron Vanatta serves all five of the district's school buildings, including three elementary schools, and is armed at all times.

Vanatta is the district's only police officer. He is based at the middle school/high school complex, but serves and oversees safety measures at all five buildings.

"We’ve taken these situations very seriously, and that’s why we hired Officer Vanatta to begin with," Cromie said. He serves a key function for us on all levels of schools safety."

Vanatta, a police officer who has worked for Keystone Oaks School District for three years, leads discussions and workshops with students to discuss safety and making good decisions. He co-ordinates safety drills and helps form safety procedures for the district, and works with local police departments.

"We're in a unique position, being that our district serves three separate communities, but that our high school complex is in a district we don't serve," Cromie said. "Co-ordinating safety measures with four communities is no small task, and Aaron has done it."

The Keystone Oaks School District comprises the boroughs of Dormont, Green Tree and Castle Shannon, but the high school complex actually sits in Mt. Lebanon Township, which is a separate school district.

Newtown locals responded to the NRA press conference. Suzy DeYoung, a Newtown resident for nine years who has three children, said LaPierre's speech was playing to people’s fears.

“People are much smarter than this,” DeYoung said. “He is saying we need to be protected from guns by more guns. This lack of logic speaks for itself, and I truly believe the response you are abut to see from parents all around the world will offer better commentary than I ever could."

Joanna Zachos, a mother in Sandy Hook, CT said that while she supports an increase in gun control and personally does not believe in guns at all, that the larger problem goes "way beyond that."

"The problem we have is our immunity to violence as a society as a whole," she said. "Violent video games, violent movies, addiction to horror films. We've developed immunity to violence and violent images."

LaPierre also lamented violence in video games, music videos and "blood-soaked" films. But his central solution seemed to be a great mobilization of gun-carrying "good guys," a term he used repeatedly but did not define, who might be more present and respond more quickly than police.

"If we truly cherish our kids, more than our money, more than our celebrities, more than our sports stadiums, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible," LaPierre said. "And that security is only available with properly trained, armed 'good guys'."

LaPierre, who was interrupted twice by protesters who held signs in front of TV cameras, made a direct call for local action.

"I call on every parent. I call on every teacher. I call on every school administrator, every law enforcement officer in this country, to join with us and help create a national schools shield safety program to protect our children with the only positive line of defense that’s tested and proven to work," he said.

LaPierre did not take questions from reporters, and did not acknowledge the protesters.

Dormont-Brookline Patch Local Editor Erin Faulk contributed to this report.

Mary Ellen MacPherson December 22, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Did anybody expect anything else from the NRA? Let's get those assualt weapons and high-capacity magazines off the streets first and then work to identify and treat those in need of mental health help.
Ed B December 22, 2012 at 09:40 PM
How are you planning on getting criminals to turn these in? OK, let's say they are COMPLETELY taken off the streets. Guess what, they will start using something else. England is trying to ban large kitchen knives right now because they are being used in violent crime. What's next? Many places have tried gun control and the crime rates just keep going up. It's not the answer. So here we have the NRA suggesting a possible solution but because they are the NRA and not the cute fuzzy bunny club they are the crazy ones. In 2000(during the previous assault weapons ban, which was also the time period that the Columbine murders took place) Clinton asked for 60 million dollars to put a cop in every school, he didn't get it. I wish he had. Let's not make the same mistake twice and let's try something that hasn't failed everywhere else.
JS December 22, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Please Ed, let's see your source on England trying to ban large kitchen knives? I looked into it, the best I could come up with is a suggestion in 2005 which didn't happen. England is not trying to ban kitchen knives. This one I posted on another thread with no response. It is an example where gun control did work, despite your insistence that it doesn't - "Other countries offer a road map. In Australia in 1996, a mass killing of 35 people galvanized the nation’s conservative prime minister to ban certain rapid-fire long guns. The “national firearms agreement,” as it was known, led to the buyback of 650,000 guns and to tighter rules for licensing and safe storage of those remaining in public hands. The law did not end gun ownership in Australia. It reduced the number of firearms in private hands by one-fifth, and they were the kinds most likely to be used in mass shootings. In the 18 years before the law, Australia suffered 13 mass shootings — but not one in the 14 years after the law took full effect. The murder rate with firearms has dropped by more than 40 percent, according to data compiled by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, and the suicide rate with firearms has dropped by more than half." From a Nicholas Kristoff NY Times op-ed last Sunday. Gun control has not failed everywhere else like you say. All other countries have lower rates of gun death than we do. Good luck getting armed cops in all schools in this age of budget cuts.
Ed B December 22, 2012 at 10:30 PM
OK, I screwed up, was told the knife thing and did not look into it. They still did try to do it though. If it had passed and criminal started using rocks would they try and ban them next? It's a slippery slope. They say we just want to ban these so called assault rifles and their hi capacity magazines. Well guess what, even if you could get them off the streets, the bad people in the world would just move on to the next thing and the next thing til my 9 iron is on the chopping block. Gun bans only disarm law abiding people. The problem I find with your numbers is that they just talk about gun related murders. What about crime in general? Why does it matter what the instrument, the inanimate object was? Here's some numbers for you. http://news.msn.com/us/video?videoid=7389caeb-9b4e-4384-86a5-0038afd9dab2#tscptmf

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