WASHINGTON -- The National Rifle Association on Tuesday said it was prepared to offer "meaningful contributions" to ensure that events such as the massacre of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., "never happen again."
The NRA said it planned to hold a major news conference on Friday, but did not say what it would announce.
The statement from the nation's largest pro-gun lobbying group was issued to members of the media after four days of total silence following the mass murder. During that time, the NRA has become a focal point for criticism from those who support stronger gun control laws. Members of Congress have said they plan to propose new laws on the first day of the next session of Congress in January.
National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters –- and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown.
Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.
The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.
The NRA is planning to hold a major news conference in the Washington, DC area on Friday, December 21.
It wasn't immediately clear what meaningful contributions the NRA plans.
But there may be some clues in the group's responses to prior mass shootings. In early 2011, following the mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that nearly killed former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre said the debate about how to prevent future gun massacres should focus on preventing the mentally ill from acquiring weapons.
“It shouldn’t be a dialogue about guns; it really should be a dialogue about dangerous people,” LaPierre told The New York Times. But at the time, the NRA was unwilling to have any dialogue at all with the Obama White House, a decision LaPierre justified to the Times by saying, “Why should I or the NRA go sit down with a group of people that have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment in the United States?”
This time, however, LaPierre might have little choice. In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, members of Congress -- including some with solidly pro-gun voting records -- have shown a renewed resolve to pass gun control legislation, including potentially banning assault weapons, as well as passing laws to limit the sale of high-capacity magazines.
Chief among them is West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D), whose support for gun rights earned him an "A" rating from the NRA. Manchin said Monday that "everything should be on the table" for discussion. He added that he wants to "call all our friends in the NRA and sit down and have this [discussion and] bring them into it. They have to be at the table."
UPDATE: This article has been edited to include background on the NRA's response to previous gun massacres.
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Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)
"I wish to God she had had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out ... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids," Gohmert said of slain principal Dawn Hochsprung on <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/louie-gohmert-guns_n_2311379.html"><em>Fox News Sunday</em></a>. He argued that shooters often choose schools because they know people will be unarmed.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R)
"If people were armed, not just a police officer, but other school officials that were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would be an opportunity to stop an individual trying to get into the school," he <a href="http://www.wtop.com/610/3162096/Gov-Is-it-time-to-arm-school-officials">told WTOP's "Ask the Governor" show</a> Tuesday, warning that Washington may respond to such a policy with a "knee-jerk reaction."
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) & State Sen. Frank Niceley (R)
Gov. Haslam says he will consider a Tennessee plan to secretly arm and train some teachers, <a href="http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/12/tennessee-armed-teachers.php">TPM reports</a>. The legislation will be introduced by State Sen. Frank Niceley (R) next month. "Say some madman comes in. The first person he would probably try to take out was the resource officer. But if he doesn’t know which teacher has training, then he wouldn’t know which one had [a gun]," Niceley told TPM. "These guys are obviously cowards anyway and if someone starts shooting back, they’re going to take cover, maybe go ahead and commit suicide like most of them have."
Oklahoma State Rep. Mark McCullough (R) & State Sen. Ralph Shortey (R)
State Rep. Mark McCullough (R) <a href="http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=336&articleid=20121217_336_0_OKLAHO168827">told the Tulsa World</a> he plans to file legislation that would bring guns into schools, calling their absence "irresponsible." “It is incredibly irresponsible to leave our schools undefended – to allow mad men to kill dozens of innocents when we have a very simple solution available to us to prevent it," he said. "I’ve been considering this proposal for a long time. In light of the savagery on display in Connecticut, I believe it’s an idea whose time has come." Sen. Ralph Shortey (R) told the Tulsa World that teachers should carry concealed weapons at school events. "Allowing teachers and administrators with concealed-carry permits the ability to have weapons at school events would provide both a measure of security for students and a deterrent against attackers," he said.
Florida State Rep. Dennis Baxley (R)
Baxley, who once sponsored Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law, <a href="http://politics.heraldtribune.com/2012/12/17/florida-legislator-allow-guns-in-schools/">told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune </a>that keeping guns out of schools makes them a target for attacks. “We need to be more realistic at looking at this policy," he said. "In our zealousness to protect people from harm we’ve created all these gun-free zones and what we’ve inadvertently done is we’ve made them a target. A helpless target is exactly what a deranged person is looking for where they cannot be stopped.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)
At a Tea Party event Monday night, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/18/rick-perry-guns-in-schools_n_2322185.html">Perry praised a Texas school system that allows some staff to carry concealed weapons to work</a> and encouraged local school districts to make their own policies.
Minnesota State Rep. Tony Cornish (R)
Cornish <a href="http://www.kdlt.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22736&Itemid=57">plans to introduce legislation that would allow teachers to arm themselves</a>, according to the AP.
Oregon State Rep. Dennis Richardson (R)
In an email <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/oregon-state-rep-dennis-richardson-teacher-guns-stopped-connecticut-shooting_n_2317444.html?ir=Education">obtained by Gawker</a> and excerpted below, Richardson tells three superintendents that he could have saved lives had he been armed and in Sandy Hook on Friday: <blockquote>If I had been a teacher or the principal at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and if the school district did not preclude me from having access to a firearm, either by concealed carry or locked in my desk, most of the murdered children would still be alive, and the gunman would still be dead, and not by suicide. ... [O]ur children's safety depends on having a number of well-trained school employees on every campus who are prepared to defend our children and save their lives?</blockquote>
Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett
"And I'm not so sure -- and I'm sure I'll get mail for this -- I'm not so sure I wouldn't want one person in a school armed, ready for this kind of thing," Bennett, who served as education secretary under Ronald Reagan, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/bill-bennett-education-secretary-connecticut-shooting_n_2311774.html">told <em>Meet the Press</em> Sunday</a>. "The principal lunged at this guy. The school psychologist lunged at the guy. It has to be someone who's trained, responsible. But, my god, if you can prevent this kind of thing, I think you ought to."