Wayne LaPierre said on NBC's "Meet the Press" today that the right way to improve student safety would be to place armed guards in every U.S. school, focus on prosecuting violent criminals and get mentally ill people off the street.
LaPierre, NRA President David Keane and former Representative Asa Hutchinson, an Arkansas Republican leading the gun-rights group's efforts to improve school safety, made the rounds of the Sunday television talk shows in response to the Dec. 14 killings in Newtown, Conn. The NRA had been silent for a week after the shootings until a press conference Dec. 21, where LaPierre called for armed guards in schools.
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Hutchinson, a former Homeland Security Department undersecretary, likened the debate on armed guards at schools to the discussion over whether to have armed federal air marshals on airplanes.
"It has increased the safety of the airlines, and it's not like it's an armed camp when you go on the airlines," he said on ABC's "This Week." "Are our children less important to protect than our air transportation? I don't think so. So I think it's a very reasonable approach."
Adam Lanza, 20, used a semiautomatic rifle to gun down 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The shooting has prompted calls to limit military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Hutchinson said debating such measures would divert attention from making schools safer.
"If we go down that path, we're going to miss the focal point of providing safety," Hutchinson said. "I think that is really the wrong debate to have."
"Trying to prevent shootings in schools without talking about guns is like trying to prevent lung cancer without talking about cigarettes," he said on NBC.
"Washington doesn't have answers for everything," he said on "Fox News Sunday."
"We can get some false sense of security in passing laws and we need real solutions."