- (Photo: Reuters/William B. Plowman/NBC/Handout)
In his first interview since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, defended his call to put more armed security in schools.
On NBC's "Meet the Press," host David Gregory noted that even some conservative publications were criticizing LaPierre's idea, first announced in a Friday press conference. The New York Post front page, for instance, had a photo of LaPierre with the headline, "Gun Nut! NRA loon in bizarre rant over Newtown."
"If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our school to protect our children, then call me crazy," LaPierre responded. "I think the American people think it's crazy not to do it. It's the one thing that would keep people safe."
At his Friday press conference, LaPierre again called for Congress to make an immediate appropriation to hire policemen for every school in the country, and said that Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman, would work to start a volunteer program for retired police and military officers to help with school security.
The interview was contentious with each side expressing exasperation with each other at different points.
"I don't understand why you can't, just for a minute," LaPierre said, "imagine that when that horrible monster tried to shoot his way into Sandy Hook school that if a good guy with a gun had been there, he might've been there to stop him."
Most of Gregory's questions were challenging LaPierre on why he would not support any gun control measures.
"You're into the art of the possible because your standard is, anything that has a chance of working we ought to try, except when it has to do with guns or ammunition," Gregory challenged. "Don't you see that people see that as a complete dodge?"
Holding up a 30 round gun magazine, Gregory asked, "Isn't it possible, that if we got rid of these ... that we could reduce the carnage?"
"I don't think that will make one difference," LaPierre answered.
LaPierre noted, though, that the NRA does support background checks. One of the "biggest holes" in the background check system, he added, is that if a felon tries and fails to purchase a firearm they cannot be arrested.
Later in the show, Chuck Todd, chief White House correspondent for NBC, argued that the statement might be something where the Obama administration could find common cause with the NRA. The NRA could help build support among Republican governors for a more stringent background check system.
Harold Ford, Jr., a former Democratic congressperson, said that the idea of armed security in schools is something that should be tried. Todd added that when he was in high school there was an armed police officer, and "a lot of high schools have been doing that for years."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also supported the idea. He does not believe, though, that limiting the number of bullets in a gun magazine would help.
"Changing a magazine, I can do that pretty quick. The best way to interrupt a shooter is to keep him out of the school, ... interrupt him with armed force," Graham said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (R-N.Y.), on the other hand, argued that LaPierre's position is "so extreme and tone deaf that he actually helps the cause of passing sensible gun legislation in Congress."
After criticizing LaPierre's proposal, though, Schumer said "we have to look at a holistic solution. ... We should try all kinds of different things."