Is the NRA push for guns in schools crazy? It depends on where you live.
Reaction to the NRA’s controversial proposal to have armed guards in all schools illustrates the regional divide over guns – how and even whether to control the nation’s private arsenal.
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The announcement of a taskforce, led by former US Rep. Asa Hutchinson, to create a national "school shield" model came after NRA chief lobbyist Wayne LaPierre blamed violent popular culture and "gun free zones" for informing "every insane killer in America that schools are the safest places to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk."
The press conference, which was punctuated by protesters shouting, "The NRA has blood on its hands," capped a week of roiling debate that made it clear that the country is far from united on how to stop gunmen from breaching school defenses and attacking children.
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Whether epitomizing a red-blue or rural-urban divide, the NRA's response stood in stark philosophical contrast to calls for assault weapons bans and other restrictions coming from many gun control advocates, including President Obama. This week, Mr. Obama announced a White House anti-gun violence task force, led by Vice President Joe Biden, which met for the first time on Thursday as it aims to return recommendations within 30 days.
All of this come a week after, 20-year-old Adam Lanza armed himself with an assault rifle, handguns, and hundreds of bullets, forcing himself into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children and six school staffers before shooting himself .
The open question is whether Americans will be able to look beyond the emotional sniping from both sides of the debate to find local solutions to keeping schools safe while safeguarding the constitutional right to own and carry guns for sporting purposes or self-defense.
"I think both sides need to give up something now," says Burke Strunsky, a senior homicide prosecutor in the Riverside, Calif., district attorney's office.
"People advocating for strong gun control have to come to terms with [recent Supreme Court decisions affirming the right to bear arms] and the pro-gun side needs to come to terms with a patent reality, that the proliferation of guns is having a major effect on the number of gun-related homicides that are happening," he says. “If both sides can get over their reluctance to admit what is obvious, I think we're going to get a lot further in the debate.”
But for now, the nation appeared to be coalescing along divergent paths where actual policy changes may have more to do with state residency than federal citizenship, not to mention political leanings of elected representatives.