On Friday the National Rifle Association broke its weeklong silence following the horrific shooting of 26 people at a school in Newtown, CT and called for a surge of gun-carrying "good guys" around American schools.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for a new kind of American domestic security revolving around armed civilians, arguing that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
"We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents," LaPierre said. "Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers. Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it, and exploit it."
LaPierre's speech comes at a time when voices for gun control are rising. On Friday morning before the press conference, President Obama released a video (above) citing a petition by hundreds of Americans calling for swift action.
At the grassroots level, groups like Newtown United, a group of Newtown neighbors, are working to address major issues related to the tragedy, including gun control, violent media, mental health and legislation.
In stark contrast, LaPierre called for a great mobilization of gun-carrying "good guys," a term he used repeatedly but did not define, who could be more present and respond more quickly than police.
"If we truly cherish our kids, more than our money, more than our celebrities, more than our sports stadiums, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible," LaPierre said. "And that security is only available with properly trained, armed 'good guys'."
LaPierre, who was interrupted twice by protesters who held signs in front of TV cameras, made a direct call for local action.
"I call on every parent. I call on every teacher. I call on every school administrator, every law enforcement officer in this country, to join with us and help create a national schools shield safety program to protect our children with the only positive line of defense that’s tested and proven to work," he said.
In his speech, LaPierre also accused the media of selling "violence against its own people" through violent video games, music videos and "blood-soaked" films.
He did not take questions from reporters, and did not acknowledge the protesters.
What's being done in Alameda
Alameda Police Department sent out a community message on Thursday saying that Alameda Police Chief Mike Noonan and Alameda Unified School District Superintendent Kirsten Vital want to assure all parents and members of the school community that "the safety of our children and school staff are our top priority."
In 2004 the Alameda Police Department adopted the “Safe Schools” program. The program is designed to address situations such as that which occurred in Newton or similar events that are likely to put our children in danger or in harm’s way. Annual training is conducted with the cooperation of students, teachers, staff, the Alameda Fire and Police Departments, as well as outside agencies that may be called upon for mutual aid assistance.
Since the implementation of the "Safe Schools" program, there have been two full scale exercises conducted. The first was held at Lincoln Middle School in 2007 and the second at Alameda High School in 2011. There are plans for an upcoming full scale exercise, the location and details of which have yet to be determined. The “Safe Schools” program is continuously evaluated, updated and revised to ensure best practices are employed.
The release goes on to state:
We ask that you speak to your child about the recent events and reassure them that they are safe at school. We also ask that you stress the importance of following the directions of teachers, support staff and school leaders during emergency drills. For reference, we would like to direct you to a web document published by the National Association of School Psychologists called “Talking to your Children about Violence.” If you need further assistance you may contact your child’s school principal. Please remind your children to report threatening comments or behaviors to a trusted adult.
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