After last week's mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., House Democrats berated the National Rifle Association's chairman today for suggesting that Congress should pass legislation calling for an armed police officer in every school across the country.
"I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation, and to do it now, to make sure that blanket safety is in place when our kids return to school in January," NRA Chairman Wayne LaPierre said today. "The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
Rep. Chris Murphy, who represents the district that includes Newtown, responded to the NRA news conference after attending the funeral of another victim from last Friday's massacre.
"Walking out of another funeral and was handed the NRA transcript. The most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen," @ChrisMurphyCT tweeted.
In one of the country's deadliest shootings, a police officer was stationed at Columbine High School - a sheriff's deputy - who exchanged fire with Eric Harris but still couldn't stop him or Dylan Klebold before they ended their rampage by killing themselves.
Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York, the incoming vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said the NRA's idea is "the exact opposite direction the American people want us to move in," adding that the American people "were expecting a completely different response" from the pro-gun lobby.
"It's an incredibly false notion to think that simply by having armed guards in our schools that somehow that will deter someone who is dead-on going to try to take not only the lives of other people but in this case and other cases themselves as well," Crowley said at a Capitol Hill news conference Friday afternoon. "The way in which the NRA is approaching this now is irrational."
But some Democrats did embrace the idea of armed guards in the aftermath of Columbine. President Clinton promoted a Justice Department program that helped place officers in schools to help make them safer for students and teachers, according to The Associated Press.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland called LaPierre's remarks "unfortunate," but he doubted the comments represented the views of the overwhelming majority of the American public or responsible NRA members.
"The recommendation of an arms escalation in America is not, I think, the solution that the American people believe … makes commonsense," Hoyer said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi conceded that the issue is "complicated, but she said the NRA's call for an escalation "is not a positive force" in the renewed gun control debate.
"For the NRA and others to sort of shield themselves by saying it's the mentally ill or something, and therefore we have to have more armed cops in the schools or more guns in the school - what are they - are they going to have [a gun] on the teacher's desk?" Pelosi asked in wonder. "Wait a minute, man with a gun; I have it locked up someplace. Wait until I go get it. I mean, this - this just doesn't make sense; we've got to reduce violence."