Brookhaven University Prez: We Don't Agree With NRA's Position
Oglethorpe University's Lawrence Schall responds to the NRA's call for 'armed security' around schools.
The president of the Brookhaven, GA-based university who is leading a coalition of academians who support gun control legislation doesn't agree with Friday's NRA announcement.
"My sense of what the NRA is proposing is that we have police in every school and more guns," said Dr. Lawrence Schall, president of Oglethorpe University. "I've only seen news reports of what exactly was said, and I haven't studied it, but overall, we don't agree with that approach."
In an open letter released late Wednesday afternoon, Schall was joined by more than 160 college and university presidents nationwide in ending the so-called gun show loophole, which they said allows for the purchase of guns from unlicensed sellers without a criminal background check; banning military-style semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammo magazines; and requiring consumer safety standards for all guns such as safety locks.
In a Friday morning press conference in Washington DC, the NRA 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."
Schall said his effort has exceeded his initial expectations.
"When we wrote the letter, I thought I'd be encouraged if we got 25 signatures," he said. "Now we're at more than 300 signatures, which tells me there's something different about this effort."
The website www.collegepresidentsforgunsafety.org is calling for more college and university presidents to join the effort.
LaPierre's speech was a call to supporters to mobilize around a new vision of American domestic security, at a time when voices for gun control are steadily 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.
Newtown locals responded to the NRA press conference. Suzy DeYoung, a Newtown resident for nine years who has three children, said LaPierre's speech was playing to people’s fears.
“People are much smarter than this,” DeYoung said. “He is saying we need to be protected from guns by more guns. This lack of logic speaks for itself, and I truly believe the response you are abut to see from parents all around the world will offer better commentary than I ever could."
Joanna Zachos, a mother in Sandy Hook, CT said that while she supports an increase in gun control and personally does not believe in guns at all, that the larger problem goes "way beyond that."
"The problem we have is our immunity to violence as a society as a whole," she said. "Violent video games, violent movies, addiction to horror films. We've developed immunity to violence and violent images."
LaPierre also lamented violence in video games, music videos and "blood-soaked" films. But his central solution seemed to be a great mobilization of gun-carrying "good guys," a term he used repeatedly but did not define, who might 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.