NRA President: “I Think it Went Pretty Well”

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 23 2012 8:05 AM

NRA President: “I Think it Went Pretty Well”   

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David Keene was elected to the high-profile, but unpaid, position of NRA president in February 2011

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

As criticism continues to flood in about the National Rifle Association’s news conference Friday —the first since the Newtown school massacre—the group’s president quickly concluded critics had it all wrong. “I think it went pretty well,” NRA President David Keene told the Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove a mere nine hours after NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre seemingly blamed everything but guns—including movies and pop music—for the Sandy Hook shooting. “Certainly from our perspective, we had thousands of supportive calls at the office this afternoon,” Keene said. “We’ve got thousands of retired police officers, veterans, and the like who were saying, ‘We’ll volunteer and do whatever we have to do’” to help make the NRA’s plan to put armed guards in every school a reality.

Keene explained that the NRA would provide the security training but it would be up to the individual school districts to decide how, or whether, to implement what the pro-gun group has dubbed the “National School Shield” program. Keene also reminisced about the good old days “when we often brought our shotguns to school and went hunting afterwards. You got to take your gun on the plane and throw it in the overhead.”

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Meanwhile, debate over the NRA’s proposal continued over the weekend and even those who claim they could see the benefit of more police presence in schools seem to agree the group’s view of how the whole thing would work “was far too simplistic,” reports the New York Times.

It’s hardly a secret that the NRA’s proposal to place armed guards in every school wasn’t well received. Democratic lawmakers quickly shot down the idea, while Republican politicians mostly stayed silent, as Politico reported. But the truth is the concept isn’t really novel. Around a third of public schools across the country have armed guards on campus, points out the New York Times, but officials warn that it doesn’t automatically make schools safer.

“In theory what the NRA is saying is we want to put someone in so that if somebody breaks in, we’ll shoot him down and everything will be fine and the only person that will be shot is the person breaking in,” an expert who advised the Cleveland school district on safety explained. “In reality, the problem is you might shoot someone who isn’t in fact breaking in or you might shoot somebody else—a student or a visitor or a teacher or other adult who is doing something else that is inappropriate that is perceived by that person as being threatening.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.