Gun Lobby Speaks: We Need More Guns, Especially in Schools

The Newtown school shootings have sparked renewed calls for gun control. (Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA)

Gun Lobby Speaks: We Need More Guns, Especially in Schools

The NRA, its affiliates and the lawmakers it supports did not stay silent for too long. Now, the familiar arguments and strategies to defang a national push for stronger gun regulations

As a nation mourns and as funerals continue for the child victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last week, gun industry lobbyists and their political affiliates are emerging from 'the rock they've been hiding under' since Friday to deliver their solution to the country's ongoing gun violence epidemic.

Their message, in short: more guns. Especially in schools.

On Tuesday, a bill was introduced in the South Carolina legislature that would permit school teachers to carry loaded firearms in their classrooms.

The bill, introduced by state Rep. Phillip Lowe (R-Florence), would demand that a teacher wanting to have a gun in the classroom would have to meet a set of criteria, but would only allow school officials to deny the request "upon a finding of just cause."

According to the Charlotte Observer, one fellow lawmaker called the bill "idiotic" but the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. Greg Delleney (R-Chester), said he would give the bill a hearing.

Governor of Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell, also joined the 'more guns in schools' chorus by telling constinuents in his state that he would consider such a law for his state.

"I think there should at least be a discussion of that," McDonnell said during a public Q&A Tuesday. "If people were armed, not just a police officer, but other school officials who were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would be an opportunity to stop aggressors trying to come into the school, so I think that's a reasonable discussion that ought to be had."

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association broke its media silence late Tuesday evening and issued a statement promising "to offer meaningful contributions" to a national dialogue and make efforts to "make sure this never happens again."

The NRA's statement was met with immediate scorn by many.

As a post by New York Magazine's Joe Coscarelli points out, "It took the NRA four days to come up with 'Shocked, Saddened, and Heartbroken'"?

Commenting on the group's announcement for a "major" conference on Friday to expand on what their "contributions" to solving the nation's culture of violence and mass murder would be, Coscarelli commented derisively: "That should be something."

And, as gun policy expert Kristin Goss told CNN, the NRA's strategy is a signature part of the organization's playbook after an incident such as the massacre at Sandy Hook.

"The typical pattern is something horrific happens. There is a national outcry, mourning. People call for a national conversation on gun control. Gun rights proponents lay low," Goss said. "They're used to seeing this cycle express condolences and hope the attention will shift to a new issue."


When the NRA does speak in detail, it will do so forcefully and with the type of political sway and heft the pro-gun lobby has carefully amassed over dozens of election cycles, experts say.

"When the emotions come down, I'm sure you'll hear the NRA address this issue. It'll be in January when legislation is introduced. They'll testify at hearings. You'll hear the same kind of arguments that I'd come up with," said Richard Feldman, who served as regional political director for the NRA during its rise to power in the 1980s and is president of a gun rights group, the Independent Firearm Owners Association.

When that happens, the group will wield the full power of its millions of members and leverage the $17 million it spent in federal races this year helping elect candidates who it considers supporters of the NRA's mission, said policy experts.

For his part, Larry Pratt, executive director for Gun Owners of America, appeared on Piers Morgan's evening show to hash out the familiar arguments of the pro-gun lobby, including arming teachers to make schools "more safe":

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