WASHINGTON -- Guns and police officers in all American schools are what's needed to prevent a repeat of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, the National Rifle Association declared Friday, taking a no-retreat stance in the face of growing calls for gun control.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said Wayne LaPierre, the group's chief executive. His hard-line comments ended speculation that the Newtown horror would lead to a softer NRA stand.
Some members of Congress who had long scoffed at gun-control proposals have signaled an openness to concessions. A debate over legislation seems likely next month.
But the nation's largest gun-rights lobby broke its weeklong silence on the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 26 people with a defiant presentation. The event was billed as a news conference, but NRA leaders took no questions. Twice, they were interrupted by banner-waving protesters, who were removed by security.
LaPierre delivered a 25-minute tirade against the notion that another gun law would stop killings in a culture where children are exposed daily to violence in video games, movies and music videos. He argued that guns are the solution, not the problem.
"Before Congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation or anything else; as soon as our kids return to school after the holiday break, we need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work," LaPierre said. "And by that, I mean armed security."
He said Congress should provide funds to post an armed police officer in every school. Meanwhile, he said the NRA would develop a school emergency response program with volunteers from the group's 4.3 million members.
The NRA has opposed legislation such as restrictions on assault weapons or high-capacity ammunition magazines that have been embraced by President Barack Obama and a majority of the public in polls.
LaPierre argued that guards need to be in place quickly because "the next Adam Lanza," the man police identified as the shooter in Newtown, is already planning an attack on another school.
"How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark?" LaPierre asked.
Members of Long Island's congressional delegation were unmoved by LaPierre's argument. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) said the NRA "showed a disconnect between it and the majority of the American people." And Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said, "Except in extremely rare cases, armed police are not the answer to school violence."
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) said, "We do not need an arms race in our schools." Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) denounced "the NRA's outrageous proposal for the federal government to militarize our schools."
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) said, "It is the definition of idiocy to suggest that the answer to gun violence in schools is to have more guns in schools."
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a vocal gun-control advocate, said the NRA offered "a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe."
-- With Robert Brodsky
and Matthew Chayes