Wayne LaPierre, Vice President of the National Rifle Association, blamed this week’s shooting at the Navy Yard on a shortage of firearms. Speaking with David Gregory on Meet the Press, LaPierre charged that the base was “completely unprotected” when Aaron Alexis entered, and called for even more armed guards than were already on duty.
Gregory questioned this logic, pointing out that this attack occurred at a military facility with a heavier armed guard presence than most other places.
GREGORY: This is similar. After Newtown, you were outspoken in saying more security was the answer…This was the Navy Yard. There were armed guards there, Mr. LaPierre. Does that not undermine your argument?
LAPIERRE: No, the whole country knows the problem is there weren’t enough good guys with guns! When the good guys with guns got there, it stopped. [...]
GREGORY: “Can it be the sliding scale where, you do have armed guards there, but now there’s not enough armed guards? And when it comes to schools, if only we had an armed guard, and then if we had teachers with weapons, then we could stop it. I mean, where does it stop?”
In reality, police were on the scene within two to three minutes of the shooting, and security guards had already gone after the gunman. Even in those few minutes, the gunman had manage to shoot several people and then had an all-out gun battle with law enforcement, wounding one internal security guard and one Metropolitan police officer. Most gunmen in recent years have needed only a few minutes to wreak havoc. The 2009 shooting at the Fort Hood army base in Texas happened in four minutes, despite heavy security. The deadliest school massacre in U.S. history, at Virginia Tech, took just nine minutes.
LaPierre, who also called for arming teachers after the Newtown shooting, seems to believe that arming every single person at military facilities and in schools would stop the now regular occurrences of fatal gun violence in the U.S. However, even when responders to violence are trained, more guns in a tense situation often hurt more than they help. Just this week, New York police officers accidentally shot two bystanders while pursuing a disoriented, unarmed man. Last year, police shot nine bystanders while confronting the Empire State Building gunman.