Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh came to the defense of the National Rifle Association on Friday as it found itself besieged for demanding that armed guards be placed in every school in the country.
“The NRA was very classy and laid back for a week,” Limbaugh said on his afternoon radio program. “They didn’t say anything, didn’t get involved, didn’t attempt to exploit it one way or another.
“They are the greatest, the largest gun-safety organization in the country,” he added.
At a news conference in Washington, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for armed security guards in the nation’s public schools.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said. “Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away or from a minute away?”
LaPierre’s remarks were the NRA’s first major public comments since the gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 people — including 20 first-graders.
The shooter, Adam Lanza, 20, killed himself after his the rampage. He also fatally shot his mother, Nancy, at their home before heading to the school, authorities said.
Limbaugh backed LaPierre’s idea on arming school security guards, according to a transcript from his Friday show.
“In every instance of these shootings, what is it that ends it? Somebody else shows up with a gun aimed at the perp,” he said. “That’s when he either commits suicide or runs for it and is shot or what have you. He doesn’t complete it, doesn’t finish it ’til somebody shows up that can stop him.
“I think most parents would probably say, ‘Yep, put an armed guard in there,’” Limbaugh said.
“It would be easier than rolling back the clock a couple generations where it wasn’t necessary because our culture hadn’t spiraled out of control. But now that it has, we gotta deal with it as it exists. Well, the media didn’t like any of this.”
Limbaugh also said LaPierre was right in criticizing the media for its preoccupation with violence and its attacks on the NRA. “He’s calling attention to the stuff that everybody wants ignored or papered over or, in fact, defended,” Limbaugh said. “The only time the left ever supports personal responsibility is when their institutions are under assault.”
Still, LaPierre’s call for armed school guards was immediately attacked by gun-control advocates.
“That message was an insult to the lives of those children,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told Philly.com. That we would face the prospects of shootouts in our schools, and utilize the precious and declining resources in public education to put armed personnel in every school is insane.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy, in whose district the shootings occurred, said he learned of LaPierre’s comments while leaving the funeral of a victim from the massacre.
"Walking out of another funeral and was handed the NRA transcript,” he said on Twitter. “The most revolting, tone-deaf statement I've ever seen."
And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a longtime advocate of tougher gun laws, called the NRA’s news conference in Washington a "shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country.
"Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe," Bloomberg told CBS News. "Leadership is about taking responsibility, especially in times of crisis.
“Today, the NRA's lobbyists blamed everyone but themselves for the crisis of gun violence."
But firearms advocates were adamant that LaPierre had gotten it right.
"We should live up to the Constitution and the Second Amendment. You know, that's it,” Indiana GOP Rep. Dan Burton told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “And if you have somebody that's mentally unbalanced, you are going to have these problems. I don't know how you do away with that."
Burton’s colleague on the state level, GOP Sen. Jim Tomes, who represents Indianapolis, backed the NRA’s call.
“It really has an immediate effect on these things happening, or at least happening to this degree,” he said.
Indiana allows security guards to carry handguns on school property. Many are off-duty police officers who are exempted from the state’s gun-free school zone laws, the Courier-Journal reports.
Several Indiana school districts, however, have debated whether teachers should carry guns — even before the Connecticut massacre.
“I guess theoretically, the school district could designate everyone as security officers, if they wanted to be that crazy,” Indianapolis school safety consultant Chuck Hibbert, a former state trooper, told the Courier-Journal.
But Tomes and other state gun-rights advocates emphasized that teachers should have the option to carry a gun, not be required to do so. And, they said, anyone carrying a gun in school should be extensively trained.
In U.S. school districts, the cost of having security officers packing heat and trolling school halls is a major issue.
According to Fox News, the nation has about 100,000 public schools. Based on an average annual salary of $50,000 for every police officer, stationing a cop in every school would cost about $5 billion. That does not include pension and benefits.
“In reality, we just can’t afford it,” Ray Hayduca, president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, told Fox. “There’s a 2 percent cap levy on property tax increases in any given year in any given town, so I don’t know where the money would come from.
“We have 11 schools in South Brunswick,” said Hayduca, who is police chief in the town. “I would have to hire 10 officers, at a total cost of more than $1 million, to put a cop in every school.
“It’s just not realistic. I mean, the concept is great, but financially, you can’t do it.”
That’s not the case in Jefferson County, Colo., however. The 1999 shootings at Columbine High School left the two killers and 13 others dead.
"We have a cop in every high school in unincorporated Jefferson County," Mark Techmeyer, a spokesman for the county Sheriff's Office, told Fox. "Two deputies are assigned to Columbine. And our regular patrol deputies act as liaisons to each elementary school.
“They are not physically there at all times but have a relationship with them and check in at least once a week," Techmeyer said.
John Shane, a criminal justice professor at John Jay College in New York, told Fox that some peace of mind might come from officers stationed in schools, but the issue needed further study to determine whether it actually enhanced safety.
“It’s a little too early to determine the wisdom of such a move, but I certainly agree it’s one of many situational-prevention measures we should be considering," Shane said. "The sad reality is that we’re at that point. We didn’t have one school shooting. We didn’t have two. We’ve had several across the country."
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