Will NRA's call to arms have lasting impact?
The pro-gun lobby suggests placing armed security guards in every American school. The idea was dismissed by many, however, and didn't seem to gain much policital support.
But what will the group's call mean? Will it have any impact beyond a day of heated debate? Is this a fundamental, significant moment in America's complicated relationship with guns or a throwaway grab for headlines?
Investors in gun stocks seemed underwhelmed. The share price for Sturm Ruger (RGR) barely budged and closed Friday down 0.4%. Smith and Wesson (SWHC) shares closed down 1.9%.
The country has seen a week of intense focus on gun control since 20-year-old Adam Lanza walked into a Connecticut elementary school on Dec. 14 and killed 20 children and six educators. America has struggled to understand the attack, to figure out what may have motivated Lanza, who also killed his mother and himself.
The NRA's top lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre, said guns were not to blame. He did blame the media, video games, movies and music videos. He described a "race to the bottom" in which companies compete to be more shocking and offensive. Violent films, he added, were "the filthiest form of pornography."
LaPierre suggested placing armed security guards in every American school. The gun-free zone in place in many schools "tells every killer that schools are the safest place" for mass shootings, he added.
He didn't specify how the program would be paid for, how guards would be trained, what procedures would be in place or how the scenario would be any different from Columbine High School, which had an armed guard when two gunmen killed numerous students in 1999, or Virginia Tech, which had its own armed police force when a student went on a deadly rampage in 2007.
His ideas didn't appear to address whether high-capacity assault weapons should be legal.
LaPierre's suggestions run counter to renewed calls for more gun control and stricter background checks since the shootings. President Obama has appointed Vice President Joe Biden to run a task force on the issue and deliver proposals by next month.
The NRA's highly anticipated announcement was quickly criticized from many sides. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said LaPierre's ideas were "a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country."
There weren't many who vocally supported LaPierre's plan. Even on the conservative website The Corner, run by the National Review, commenters were far more critical of the proposal than they were supportive. "Any sort of policy that's based on extremely rare, isolated incidents is almost guaranteed to do more unintended harm than good, wrote one. "That goes for both the anti-gun and the pro-gun crowd trying to wave the bloody shirt."
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