The US National Rifle Association has commented for the first time since a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 children and staff dead. The group said armed police should be in every school.
National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre (pictured above) delivered a lengthy speech on Friday at a press conference in Washington D.C., saying "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
It was the first news conference for the country's biggest gun lobby in the wake of the Newtown massacre last Friday, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot dead 26 people, including 20 children, before turning the gun on himself.
Armed police in every school
In his remarks, LaPierre said violent video games, Hollywood and the media shared blame for the Newtown massacre. He urged lawmakers to place armed police officers in all schools by the time children return from the winter break in January.
"I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation," LaPierre said, adding that his organization was ready to help train school security teams.
"The NRA is going to bring all its knowledge, all its dedication and all its resources to develop a model National School Shield emergency response program for every school in America that wants it," said LaPierre, who did not take any questions from reporters.
LaPierre's speech was interrupted twice by protesters, who shouted slogans and held up signs reading "NRA is killing our kids" and "NRA has blood on its hands."
The Newtown massacre is just one in a series of deadly mass shootings in the US this year, and has sparked a nationwide debate over gun control legislation.
President Barack Obama has set up an interagency group led by Vice President Joe Biden to study the issue of gun violence, vowing to produce a detailed plan next month.
Mourning the Newtown victims
The NRA's remarks come after a moment of silence was held earlier on Friday along the US east coast in an unofficial national day of mourning.
In Newtown, residents gathered at 9:30 a.m., the minute when Lanza's rampage began one week ago, to honor the victims.
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy called on residents to reflect in silence, asking churches and government bells to ring 26 times, once for each of the victims.
"Let us all come together collectively to mourn the loss of far too many promising lives," said Malloy. "Though we will never know the full measure of sorrow experienced by these families, we can let them know that we stand with them during this difficult time."
Obama observed a moment of silence at the White House, and tweeted: "20 beautiful children & 6 remarkable adults. Together, we will carry on & make our country worthy of their memory."
dr/pfd (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)