NRA's LaPierre blames poor security for Navy Yard shooting

National Rifle Association Vice President Wayne LaPierre gave no ground to gun-control advocates when he detailed the NRA's plan for securing the nation's schools. LaPierre is calling on Congress to put armed police officers in every school. Alex Wong

Monday's shooting at the Navy Yard happened because the military facility was "completely unprotected," National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre said Sunday, brushing aside suggestions that more stringent background checks or new gun laws might prevent more mass shootings of the sort that have repeatedly scarred the country in recent years.

"This is a tragedy that should not have happened," LePierre said of Monday's shooting, which claimed the lives of 13 people, including the gunman. "How could anybody look at what happened this week and say there was enough security there?"

"In a post-9/11 world, a naval base within miles from Congress and the White House" was left "completely unprotected," LaPierre said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press"", calling for "layers of security around our military bases" to ensure it doesn't happen again.

He also urged policymakers to consider allowing service members on bases to carry firearms to provide an added measure of security. "We need to look at letting the men and women who know firearms and are trained in them do what they do best, which is protect and survive," he said.

LaPierre's suggestion was reminiscent of the NRA's call for armed guards in the nation's schools in the wake of the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Then and now, LaPierre insisted that the problem isn't the abundance of guns in America or the fact that people can access them with ease, but a combination of inadequate security, a mental health system that fails to raise "red flags" about potentially dangerous individuals, and a criminal justice system that fails to enforce federal gun laws.

He suggested that if someone is "involuntarily committed," or if mental health professionals determine someone is dangerous, that person ought to be flagged as a potential threat and prevented from buying a gun.

"The only way you can stop them is you send up the red flags," he said, warning of the dangers of inaction. "When the camera goes off, nobody's going to do anything, and if we leave these homicidal maniacs on the street...they're going to kill."

Despite the relatively muted reaction from policymakers to this week's shooting, especially in comparison with the conversation about gun laws sparked by other recent mass shootings, the NRA CEO scorned "all the outrage this week - the first two days of the elite media and the politicians trying to stir this toward firearms."

When he was asked whether the government should require background checks for private firearm sales between individuals, LaPierre said, "No, I don't believe you ought to be under the thumb of the federal government."

In the face of familiar opposition from the NRA and other gun rights advocates, Obama vowed Saturday at a Congressional Black Caucus dinner to revisit his push to strengthen the country's gun laws, which mobilized lawmakers and activists earlier this year after the shooting at Sandy Hook but ultimately fell short in Congress.

"We fought a good fight earlier this year, but we came up short," he said. "And that means we've got to get back up and go back at it. Because as long as there are those who fight to make it as easy as possible for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun, then we've got to work as hard as possible for the sake of our children. We've got to be ones who are willing to do more work to make it harder."

  • Jake Miller

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