By The Bakersfield Californian
More guns. After remaining silent all week and promising "a meaningful contribution" to the national discussion in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, that was the National Rifle Association's great idea for addressing America's problem with gun violence. In a nationally televised news conference, NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre called for "armed police officers in every single school in this nation." He even went so far as to accuse the nation of being irresponsible in declaring schools to be gun-free zones and not allowing principals to be armed. Only in the NRA's warped vision for the world does a gun-free zone put children in danger.
The whole idea that an armed person in school could thwart attacks like the one at Sandy Hook is wishful thinking. As the Violence Policy Center noted in a response to the NRA's statement Friday, two armed sheriff's deputies were present at the Columbine attack. Both fired shots at the gunmen inside the school and neither was able to halt the carnage. An armed citizen at the Gabby Giffords shooting very nearly shot an unarmed bystander who had managed to tackle the shooter. Officers in a school setting could very well miss their intended target and kill or injure students and teachers. And why just schools? What about playgrounds, ball fields and day cares? What about movie theaters and malls?
The NRA didn't stop there. The gun lobby organization went on to blame the media, video games, violent movies and the lack of mental health services for tragedies like Sandy Hook -- everything but guns or gun policies. LaPierre was incredulous that a national database of the mentally ill doesn't exist so guns can't be sold to unstable people. Yet his organization has repeatedly opposed rules that would require such mental health and background checks for sales of weapons at gun shows -- something that 69 percent of NRA members support, according to a 2009 poll.
The NRA missed a historic opportunity to join the nation in addressing gun violence. Instead, it showed just how out-of-touch it has become. If the NRA proved anything Friday, it's that it deserves no seat at the table for this discussion.