Shooting Spree in Pa. Leaves Four Dead

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 21 2012 1:46 PM

The Latest Mass Shooting Occurred While NRA Officials Were Prepping To Go On Stage

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National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks in Washington, D.C.

Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images.

At this morning's D.C. press conference, NRA executive Wayne LaPierre did his best to place a relatively small frame around last week's tragedy in Newtown, suggesting the deaths of 20 elementary students and six school staff members was a problem mostly about school shootings specifically, and not gun violence in society at large.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

"Because for all the noise and anger directed at us over the past week, no one, nobody has addressed the most important, pressing and immediate question we face: How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?" LaPierre said before unveiling a proposal to place an armed guard in every school in the nation.

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At roughly the same time, however, breaking news out of Pennsylvania about the nation's latest mass killing offered something of a counter point to his argument. The Altoona Mirror with the details:

Four people are dead—including the shooter—and three state troopers were injured this morning in a shooting incident in Frankstown Township, Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio said. The gunman and two other men and a woman are all dead, Consiglio said.
Two troopers were wounded during a shootout with the suspect, Consiglio said. One trooper was hit in his bulletproof vest and another was hit by flying glass when the gunman fired at his state police vehicle. A third trooper was injured in a crash involving the suspect, Consiglio said.

It's yet unclear exactly when the shooting began. Gawker, which was one of the first national outlets to flag the shooting, makes it sound as though the spree was happening at the very moment that LaPierre was laying out his proposal ("While the NRA Was on TV Talking About the Need for More Guns Some Guy Was Walking Up and Down a Road in Pennsylvania Shooting People," reads the headline on its post). It appears more likely, however, that the spree happened prior to the event's 11 a.m. start time. The time stamp on this report from local NBC affiliate WJAC-TV, for example, suggests the whole thing was over sometime before LaPiere took the stage.

Nonetheless, the deaths are the latest in a surprising total of gun-related fatalities in the week since last Friday's tragedy in Newtown and no doubt will make it that much more difficult for the NRA to shrink the larger debate about guns that is currently going on inside the Beltway and outside it.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

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