A week after the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, CT, the National Rifle Association (NRA) finally broke its silence on the raging gun control debate, calling for armed teachers in U.S. schools in a press conference earlier today. The South Dakota Peace & Justice Center (SDPJC) strongly condemns the NRA’s position as misguided and potentially dangerous.
The NRA’s comments come as South Dakota Rep. Betty Olson (R-Prairie City) plans to introduce legislation next year that would allow school staff, including teachers, to arm themselves during school hours.
Rep. Olson’s proposal is echoed in NRA lobbyist Wayne LaPierre’s statement, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
“That’s absurd,” SDPJC Executive Director Tom Emanuel responded to LaPierre’s comment. “What stops a ‘bad guy’ with a gun is making sure he doesn’t have a gun in the first place, effectively caring for our mentally ill neighbors and citizens, working to create a culture that stops violence before it starts.
“The NRA takes the position that, since gun regulation won’t keep all firearms out of the hands of criminals, we shouldn’t have gun regulation at all. That’s like saying that since murder laws don’t stop all murders, we shouldn’t have murder laws at all.”
A recent study published by newsmagazine Mother Jones found that in the last thirty years, more than ¾ of guns used in mass shootings in America have been legally obtained.
While recognizing the potential dangers of violence in the media, Emanuel also disputes claims that movie and video game violence are to blame for school shootings.
“That’s sidestepping the issue. Would we have such violent video games if we didn’t already live in a gun culture?” Studies on the impact of media violence on children have proven inconclusive.
“We’re not looking to ban all guns,” Emanuel clarified. “And we absolutely agree that we have to protect our children. We disagree that arming our teachers and leaving broken gun laws in place is the best way to do that.”