BOSTON — Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is criticizing the National Rifle Association’s call for armed police and security volunteers to be posted at schools, saying the proposal “is not a plan, but a ploy to bring more guns into our neighborhoods” after a massacre in a Connecticut elementary school.
Menino’s comments came after the nation’s largest gun-rights lobby broke its silence on last week’s shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, which left 26 children and staff dead. The NRA blamed video games, movies and music videos, saying they expose children to a violent culture day in and day out.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” the group’s top lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre, said Friday at a Washington news conference.
“What they announced today is not a plan, but a ploy to bring more guns into our neighborhoods,” Menino said. “I don’t believe the answer to gun violence is more guns.”
He said Americans are tired of the same buzzwords and rhetoric that have moved the gun control debate nowhere and put lives at risk.
Menino and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg lead a coalition of mayors pushing to end gun violence.
“It’s time to take action on background checks, assault weapons, high capacity magazines, missing mental health records and closing private sales loopholes,” Menino said. “There is so much work to do; we don’t have time for rehashed and tired ideas.
“The American people and the families of the 34 people killed every day by gun violence demand nothing less,” Menino said.
LaPierre, the NRA lobbyist, refused to take any questions after speaking in Washington. He announced that former Rep. Asa Hutchison, R-Ark., will lead an NRA program that will develop a model security plan for schools that relies on armed volunteers.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association rejected the plan in a statement released Friday.
“The NRA’s proposal to bring armed guards into every school in our nation is impulsive and wrongheaded,” the largest teachers union in the state said. “We must seek sensible approaches to school safety and to ensuring that dangerous weapons such as assault rifles are strictly regulated so that there will never be another tragedy like the one that occurred in Newtown one week ago.”
“We believe that guns have no place in our schools,” the group said.
John Rosenthal, founder of Stop Handgun Violence, which supports reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons, said the NRA’s argument is irrational and misleading.
“Of course, they seemed to forget that in fact there were TWO armed law enforcement agents present at Columbine High School during the assault by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold that left 15 dead and 23 wounded,” Rosenthal said in a statement. “The armed agents twice engaged and fired at Eric Harris in an effort to stop the shooting, but were unsuccessful because they were outgunned by the military assault weapons with high capacity magazine clips wielded by the two teens.”
“Law enforcement carry pistols with 13 rounds but the NRA and Congress have given criminals military assault weapons and 100 round clips without detection and have made police (not criminals) the enemy of gun rights,” he said.
Since the shooting, President Barack Obama has demanded “real action, right now” against U.S. gun violence and called on the NRA to join the effort. Moving quickly after several congressional gun-rights supporters said they would consider new legislation to control firearms, the president said this week he wants proposals to reduce gun violence that he can take to Congress by January.