NRA chief Wayne LaPierre’s belligerent press conference in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre is now legend: “The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids,” LaPierre insisted, is to place an NRA-trained “good guy with a gun” on patrol in each of the nation’s schools.
But Sandy Hook isn’t the first school bloodbath that LaPierre has had to respond to as the head of the NRA. LaPierre also addressed the nation in the wake of the 1999 Columbine killings, and the solutions he laid out then for protecting students could not be more different.
In a speech to the NRA’s annual meeting in Denver in May 1999, LaPierre embraced “absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance” schools — the exact kind of gun-control regime that LaPierre blasted this past December as advertising to “every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.” The 1999 version of LaPierre even wanted to apply the same rules to education that govern air travel in America, banning the mere mention of the word “gun” in schools.
Watch a portion of LaPierre’s jaw-dropping speech here:
I explore the dark logic behind the shift in LaPierre’s rhetoric — which tracks with the NRA’s unholy embrace of the firearms industry — in my newest piece for Rolling Stone, “The NRA vs. America,” which you can read here.