Reuters/William B. Plowman/NBC
NRA leader Wayne LaPierre kept on firing on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday morning, saying "call me crazy" if it's nuts to put armed guards in schools.
"I know this town wants to argue about gun control," LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, told host David Gregory. "I don't think it will work."
LaPierre's solution, as he said in a press conference Friday responding to the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, is to place armed police officers at every school, despite the fact that the armed guards present at both the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings were unable to stem the violence there.
"We're going to support an immediate appropriate before Congress to put police officers in every school," LaPierre reiterated. "If it's crazy to call for putting police in and securing our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy."
LaPierre again fell back on his argument that the media is much to blame for mass shootings. "I know there's a media machine in this country that wants to blame guns every time something happens," he said. "I know there's an anti-gun industry in this town."
LaPierre also stood by his opposition to banning high-capacity magazines, saying "there are so many different ways" that a "monster" could carry out a shooting.
And, he reiterated, guns were not the main problem in the Sandy Hook Elementary School slughter on Dec. 14, mental health is. "We have a completely cracked mentally ill system that's got these monsters walking the streets," LaPierre said. "We have no national database of these lunatics."
LaPierre said the NRA would support efforts to improve mental health care, but called the legislation proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to ban semiautomatic guns "a phony piece of legislation" that wouldn't pass Congress and would be ineffective in any case. Feinstein's bill would revive an "assault weapons" ban that was passed in 1994 and expired in 2004.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C, agreed with LaPierre that people like Newtown shooter Adam Lanza "were not wired right for some reason." He also called for "better mental health detection" and reiterated that better security in schools was the answer.
On the other side, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told Gregory that LaPierre's "tone deaf"-ness after the Newtown atrocity would "help the cause of us passing sensible fun legislation. … I believe gun owners will turn against him as well."
On CBS's "Face the Nation," NRA President David Keene similarly told host Bob Schieffer that it was the people with the guns, and not the guns that were the problem. "These aren't military weapons," Keene argued. "If we quipped our army with the AR-15, we'd be beaten by every Third World dictatorship."
The problem, Keene said, echoing LaPierre, was mental health. "I'm not saying that every mental patient is a potential killer," Keene said. "I'm not saying that everybody that watches a video is a potential killer. That's not true. But neither is, everybody who owns a gun is a potential killer."
Over at CNN's "State of the Union," Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas, DEA administrator and longtime pro-gun lobbyist, told host Candy Crowley that debating high-capacity semiautomatics was not "the solution" for safety in schools.
"That's the wrong debate to have," Hutchinson said, reiterating the NRA line that placing armed guards in schools would make schools safer. "I certainly think it's an option they should consider."
Under Crowley's prompt that perhaps putting more guns in schools was the wrong answer, Hutchinson stuck to his guns, saying that school safety, and not gun control, was the issue. "I think it's terrific that the NRA is willing to fund experts and solutions that will be provided free of cost to the schools."
Hutchison also CNN that high-profile anti-gun advocates like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Connecticut Sen.-elect Chris Murphy wanted to "focus the debate on new laws and new prohibitions. I'm saying that's the wrong debate. I believe the better solution is school safety. One of those options is the armed presences that we have at one-third of schools."
Bloomberg gave a statement on Friday after LaPierre's press conference that the NRA "offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe." Murphy tweeted on Friday that the NRA manifesto was "the most revolting, tone-deaf statement I've ever seen."
Meanwhile, on ABC's "This Week," conservative leader Grover Norquist told host George Stephanopoulos that President Barack Obama had been too quick to jump on the Newtown shooting for political purposes.
“We ought to calm down and not take tragedies like this, crimes like this, and use them for political purposes,” Norquist said. “President Obama has been president for four years. If he thought some gun control could solve this problem, he should have been pushing it years ago.”
Later on the same program, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker said, "Most of us in America, including gun owners, agree on things that would stop the kind of carnage that is going on, and called for loopholes that allow criminals to buy guns to be closed."
Booker is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, led by Bloomberg.