World
Don't shoot the messenger, NRA critic warns

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association

Credits: REUTERS

BRYN WEESE | QMI AGENCY

WASHINGTON - The head of a pro-gun group often at odds with the National Rifle Association is warning Americans not to shoot the messenger.

On Friday, the powerful NRA made the case publicly for armed guards in every school to prevent future tragedies like last week's horrific school massacre in Newtown, Conn., when Adam Lanza, 20, opened fire on Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 children and six adult staff members.

The suggestion was followed by a deluge of criticism from gun-control advocates and politicians who blasted the organization as tone-deaf and out of touch.

But Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association, a self-described "hardcore moderate" who is often critical of the NRA leadership, applauded the association Friday for offering an actual short-term solution to protect kids in schools.

He said the backlash probably had more to do with the NRA itself, and not the idea of armed guards in schools.
"If the words spoken (Friday) had been spoken at a news conference that was headed up by the National Association of School Boards, I dare say everyone in the room would have been nodding their head in agreement," Feldman told QMI Agency. "I think the push back is more over the messenger than the message.

"I don't think anyone can really disagree with what he (NRA executive director Wayne LaPierre) said," Feldman, an attorney, added. "After 9/11, we decided to beef up security at airports. I didn't see people saying that was the wrong approach."

At what was billed as a "major" news event, LaPierre called on Congress to spend whatever funds necessary to put an armed guard in every school nationwide before kids return to class in January after the holiday break. He also said the NRA would pay out-of-pocket to help teach the would-be guards firearms training, and also to help schools set up security plans.

At the NRA news conference -- actually a news statement, since they did not take questions from reporters -- protesters twice disrupted LaPierre and blamed the NRA for "killing kids" and having "blood on their hands."

Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh came to LaPierre's defence on his radio show Friday.

"Wayne LaPierre sounded like an adult looking for real solutions, but that's not what this country's interested in right now. Sorry. The adults are not running this show," Limbaugh said. "(LaPierre) said, 'The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.' It happens to be true, but you just can't say it. You can call it a stacked deck, a rigged game, whatever, but the fix is in. The NRA is the enemy. The NRA is hated."

And LaPierre, himself, seemed fully aware of the response his group's suggestion would receive and foreshadowed the coverage by what he called a biased media that was ignoring the true cause of violent crime -- video games and movies that glorify death and the lack of a database of the mentally ill.

"I can imagine the shocking headlines you'll print tomorrow," LaPierre said. "More guns, you'll claim, are the NRA's answer to everything. Your implication will be that guns are evil, and have no place in society much less in our schools. "(But) why is the idea of a gun good when it's used to protect the president, or our country, or our police, but bad when it's used to protect our children in our schools?"

Following last week's horrific school massacre, President Barack Obama has appointed his No. 2 man Joe Biden to head up a task force that will report back next month with possible gun control and other measures the president will pursue to prevent future massacres from happening.


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