NEW YORK CITY — City officials slammed a speech by National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre Friday, in which LaPierre called for armed guards at every school to prevent gun violence.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg accused the organization of shirking responsibility and blaming others for a problem they'd helped create.
"Their press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country," said Bloomberg, who held a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. to commemorate the victims of last Friday's shooting.
"Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe," he said.
During the widely televised speech delivered in Washington, DC., LaPierre argued the 20 young children who were murdered during the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. would still be alive if only school staff had been armed.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said, calling on all schools across the country to immediately hire guards.
“We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security… Yet when it comes to the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family — our children — we as a society leave them utterly defenseless,” he said. “That must change now.”
But New York City officials, who have been rallying since the shooting for stricter gun control, railed against LaPierre's words.
"Their remarks are some of the most stupid, asinine, insensitive, ridiculous comments I have ever heard made in the public arena," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who argued that had their been armed guards at Sandy Hook, they would have been killed, too.
"I think the NRA's comments today were a clear and blatant attempt to throw salt in the wounds of families who lose their loved ones," she added.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said he, too, was disappointed by the speech.
"I thought they were going to come up with some recommendations, suggestions on gun control. That's what I thought was going to happen today," he said, dismissing the suggestion that schools should be armed.
Instead, Kelly endorsed a slew of reforms proposed by the mayor, including closing the so-called gun show loophole and renewing the assault weapons ban.
"I think all of these things don't really impact on the right for people to bear arms, the right to do recreational shooting or hunting," Kelly said.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he was confident in the city's current safety protocol, which includes placing an unarmed school safety officer in every school.
“The NRA is wrong. Putting an armed guard in every school building is not the answer," Walcott said in a statement. "Our schools are safer today than they’ve been in more than a decade thanks to our collaboration with the NYPD, reforms to our discipline code to promote safety, anti-bullying and peer mediation programs, and work to remove illegal guns from the street.”
City Comptroller John Liu called the press conference, which was interrupted several times by protesters, “a bizarre misfire.”
“The NRA’s grotesque proposal insults the memory of the innocent victims who were gunned down in Newtown, Connecticut,” he said in a statement, calling the gun lobby’s argument that children be best protected if schools had armed guards “a twisted vision of a future in which no one is safe.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio also weighed in, calling it "a complete disgrace," adding that, "Only the NRA would have the audacity to claim the solution to horrific school violence is to put more guns in our schools."
Bloomberg, a longtime gun control advocate and one of the co-founders of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said this week that he intends to ramp up his political spending to press for new regulations and oppose the NRA.
He is currently running ads online that tell the stories of the victims of gun violence.
With reporting by Ben Fractenberg