NYU media critic and professor Jay Rosen cut to the chase in his tweet: "Exact quote just now from the NRA press conference. 'This is the beginning of a serious conversation. We won't be taking any questions.'"
The only thing that might have made the NRA's post-Newtown "major press conference" this morning --- during which they had promised earlier this week to unveil their "meaningful contributions to help make sure" a mass shooting like the one at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, one week ago today, "never happens again" --- would have been if someone had actually opened fire there.
Tragically, that appears to have been happening in central Pennsylvania at almost the exact same moment as NRA CEO, Executive Vice-President and chief liar Wayne LaPierre was offering his remarks at the D.C. presser. According to a WPXI reporter, the suspect "went up & down a rural road in Altoona & shot victims." Four people are said to have died in that shooting, and three state troopers were injured attempting to stop the shooter.
"To be fair to the NRA," observed Media Matters' Jamison Foser, "YOU try to hold a press conference that doesn’t coincide with a gun killing in America. It ain’t easy."
All the while, LaPierre was instructing the gathered media today that the problems we are facing, the epidemic of mass shootings and gun violence, is due to video games, the news media, lack of armed security guards at elementary schools, mental illness, and even Barack Obama. It has, apparently, nothing whatsoever to do with guns in any way, shape or form, if LaPierre's 24 minutes of prepared remarks (full video below) are any indication.
"THIS is the mighty NRA? The group that supposedly rules all of Washington, DC? THESE nut jobs??" quipped Media Matters' Eric Boehlert, adding a few minutes later: "If nut job LaPierre held a 'press conference' every Fri, sweeping gun control would be passed by February"...
During the first five minutes of his remarks, LaPierre called for a "national database of the mentally ill", before the first of two protesters from CODEPINK to interupt the press conference took his place, silently, directly in front of the NRA's CEO, for quite some time, holding a large sign that read "NRA IS KILLING OUR CHILDREN". LaPierre simply kept speaking from his prepared remarks, even from behind the sign. The protester was eventually removed.
The problem is also "violent video games," LaPierre explained, referring to the same games played all around the world in countries which, for some unexplained reason, do not have anywhere near the level of gun violence found in the U.S.
Also, the news media is to blame, because they demonize gun owners and "don't know what they're talking about," he explained.
A few minutes later, another CODEPINK protester with a sign reading "NRA BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS" stood up in the crowd with a cry to "ban assault weapons now!"
After a minute or so, and once again without comment to the protester, LaPierre continued. "The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids," he instructed, "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
That argument, of course, is quickly debunked by the video we posted this morning from ABC News in 2009, demonstrating how even trained marksmen are little use during a sudden shooting in a room full of people. Watch that video. It's worth it, as long as folks like LaPierre have a bully pulpit to lie to and confuse the American people.
The Brady Campaign's Sarah Brady, wife of Ronald Reagan's Press Secretary James Brady, who was shot in the brain and almost killed during the 1980 assassination attempt on the President, also took to Twitter to help to debunk LaPierre's point by responding: "Wayne, a gun in the hands of Secret Service didn't stop Hinkley from wounding Pres. Reagan and 3 others including my husband."
She later retweeted someone else who snarked: "The only thing that can protect a school from a bad guy with a lobby is a good guy with a lobby."
LaPierre continued with more strawman arguments, asking, for example: "Since when did the gun automatically become a bad word? ... Why is the idea of a gun good when used to protect our President, or our military, but bad when it's used to protect our children in our schools?"
He offered no "major contributions" to the question of what, if anything, should be done to regulate access to combat-styled fire arms, ammunition or high-capacity magazines used in so many mass shootings of late. Nothing. No changes. No additional safety regulations. Not even the minimal, very reasonable gun safety regulations that the vast majority of NRA rank and file members (if not their con-men leadership) are calling for by huge numbers.
Instead, he said, we need to put armed guards in every school in America. Oh, it's also Barack Obama's fault as well, because, says LaPierre, he "zeroed out" money for emergency school security in the last budget.
"With all the money in the federal budget," LaPierre asked, "can't we afford to put a police officer in every single school?"
Well, there's a plan that "Small Government" "conservatives" should love. Did you like the way the U.S. hyper-militarized airports and nearly everything else after 9/11? If so, you "conservatives" will love the NRA's suggestions to help keep our schools safe after Newtown.
LaPierre then announced what, it seems, was the promised "meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."
"The NRA's gonna bring all its knowledge, all its dedication and all its resources to develop a model National School Shield Emergency Response program for every single school in America that wants it. From armed security, to building design, and access control to information technology, to student and teacher training, this multi-faceted program will be developed by the very best experts in the field," he explained.
It is to be headed by former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) and funded "with a budget provided by the NRA of whatever the task requires."
A man who should know about how these things work out, George W. Bush's speech writer David Frum, noted in response: "NRA 'shield' plan, if taken at all seriously, means TSA everywhere, forever."
"If we truly cherish our kids more than our money," continued LaPierre in front of a plain blue curtain, "more than our celebrities, more than our sports stadiums, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible. And that security is only possible with armed good guys."
Is that a threat, Mr. LaPierre? It almost sounded like one. This commenter's reaction after the presser ended --- without questions from any of the gathered media --- fairly well summarizes the thoughts of many who were watching today, we suspect:
It seemed more a threat than any kind of understanding that we need real action and that means some restrictions.
But watch the entire bizarre presentation and decide for yourself. It's posted below in its entirety. (Alternately, if you prefer, the full text transcript is here.)...
UPDATE 12/22/12: Well, the reviews are in. And it's not just us panning LaPierre's circus for a change. The New York Times editorial board offered an unambiguous response, writing that they "we were stunned by Mr. LaPierre’s mendacious, delusional, almost deranged rant." Even the Right-leaning Washington Post editorial board, while predictably offering their usual false equivalence, found room to be dubious of LaPierre's schemes today.
But, more surprising than all of that, take a look at how the NRA's Con-Man-In-Chief is being char-broiled on the cover of the New York Post today. Yes, Rupert Murdoch's New York Post!