NRA chief: Security, not gun control, is answer to school shootings

National Rifle Association (NRA) CEO Wayne LaPierre on Thursday said suggestions to limit guns are “completely ridiculous,” arguing more security measures is what is needed to increase safety in schools.

“Evil walks among us, and God help us if we don’t harden our schools and protect our kids,” the NRA leader told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

“Every day, young children are being dropped off at schools that are wide-open, soft targets for people bent on mass murder. It should not be easier for a madman to shoot up a school than a bank or a jewelry store or some Hollywood gala,” he said.

The top NRA executive promised that the group would provide "immediate assistance" to schools for security consulting free of charge.

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“The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous. If that’s true, armed security makes us less safe, let’s just go ahead and remove it from everywhere. Let’s remove it from the White House, from Capitol Hill, and remove it from all of Hollywood,” LaPierre continued, prompting some cheers from the crowd.

LaPierre’s comments come eight days after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 people and injuring several others.

The incident has prompted renewed calls for legislation to curb gun violence, with many Stoneman Douglas students leading the call for change.

The NRA had been silent in the days following the shooting, but Thursday marked its return to the offensive, as representatives passionately defended the Second Amendment in front of the friendly crowd at the conservative conference.

LaPierre criticized the calls for new legislation, portraying gun control activists as those who “fantasize about more laws stopping what other laws fail to stop.”

He blasted the FBI for being culpable in the Florida tragedy. The bureau admitted last week that it failed to follow up on a tip about the man who is charged in the shooting.

“They want to sweep right under the carpet the failure of school security, the failure of family, the failure of America's mental health system, and even the unbelievable failure of the FBI,” he said of those advocating for more gun control.

“I can understand a few bad apples in an organization as large as the FBI, but what’s hard to understand is why no one at the FBI stood up and called B.S. on its rogue leadership,” he said.

LaPierre’s remarks received support from the crowd, which applauded his main points. But he largely received a more muted response from the crowd than the one it gave Dana Loesch, the NRA spokeswoman who gave a fiery speech minutes before LaPierre took the stage.

But the top NRA executive received a standing ovation as he ended his speech with a familiar call to those who support gun rights.

“To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun,” he said.

– Brett Samuels contributed

Updated at 11 a.m.