National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre on Friday dismissed calls for increased gun control in response to the Connecticut school shooting, calling instead for Congress to support a plan putting armed police officers in "every single school" in America.
In an impassioned speech, marking the NRA's first in-depth public comments since the Newtown tragedy, LaPierre pointed the finger not at gun proliferation but violent video games, the media and the absence of armed guards at schools.
He argued that if banks and members of Congress can have protection, schools across America should be afforded the same security.
"It's now time for us to assume responsibly for our schools," he said. "The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be permanently involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection."
He added: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
Warning that the next mass killer could be "waiting in the wings," LaPierre urged immediate action to protect school children.
He said efforts over the years to pass laws for "gun-free school zones" have only told "every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk."
He said that when it comes to America's children, "we as a society leave them, every day, utterly defenseless. ... That must change now."
LaPierre called for a national school security plan, including an appropriation from Congress for armed guards in every school. He tapped former Rep. Asa Hutchison, R-Ark., to lead the effort to develop the security plans, which would cover everything from building design to access control. There are nearly 100,000 public schools in America.
"Will you at least admit it's possible that ... 26 innocent lives might have been spared that day," he said, if the shooter had encountered "qualified armed security."
The NRA has come under intense criticism over the past week from gun-control advocates, who largely blame access to an array of weapons for gun violence in America. Lawmakers quickly launched efforts to press for changes, like a renewed assault-weapons ban and tighter restrictions when it comes to background checks. President Obama has endorsed those efforts, calling it "common-sense legislation" while tasking Vice President Biden with producing broader policy proposals.
LaPierre was interrupted during his press conference by Code Pink protesters, one of whom held up a sign in front of his podium that read: "NRA killing our kids."
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., in a statement after the press conference, called LaPierre's plan "reckless."
"It is beyond belief that following the Newtown tragedy, the National Rifle Association's leaders want to fill our communities with guns and arm more Americans," he said.
LaPierre dismissed the gun control discussion as the notion that one more ban "will protect us where 20,000 other laws have failed."
He reserved tough words for the entertainment industry, calling "vicious violent video games" a "dirty little truth" ignored by the media.