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Editorial: NRA part of the problem

The National Rifle Associatiexecutive vice president Wayne LaPierre gestures during news conference response Connecticut school shooting Friday Dec. 21 2012

The National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, gestures during a news conference in response to the Connecticut school shooting on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 in Washington. The nation's largest gun-rights lobby is calling for armed police officers to be posted in every American school to stop the next killer "waiting in the wings." (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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Updated: January 24, 2013 6:34AM

Is this the America we want to live in?

“The only way — the only way — to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection,” National Rifle Association executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said on Friday in the NRA’s first comments since the Connecticut school shooting.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

In a blistering and paranoid rant, LaPierre offered up just one concrete solution to the national epidemic of gun violence that claimed 20 first-graders and seven adults in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14:

Armed police officers in every American school.

Is that really the best we can do?

The only answer is no.

We refuse to concede that more guns in a country already swimming in them is the answer, not when the evidence says otherwise.

America has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world and, not surprisingly, the highest gun homicide rate among developed countries. Americans are an astonishing 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than someone from another developed country. America also has among the most lax gun laws in the developed world.

The more-guns-less-violence myth perpetuated by the NRA simply does not hold up.

For a moment, we had hoped the NRA might move from its guns-first position. Earlier in the week, the NRA had said it was “prepared to offer meaningful contributions to make sure” a shooting like the one in Newtown “never happens again.”

Instead, the NRA on Friday hardened its long-held positions and blamed a violent popular culture and hatred of gun owners for the nation’s inability to stop mass shootings.

“There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people,” LaPierre said.

We agree that violent video games, movies and music help glorify violence and wish it wasn’t so. But children across the developed world are exposed to the same images and lyrics, yet the gun-violence problem in the United States is unique among them. For most crimes, including robbery and assault, American statistics are in line with other developed countries. The key exception is gun homicide.

LaPierre also peddled a particularly offensive argument: that Americans care more about the banks that hold our money, sports stadiums that house our athletes and our president than our children because we’re willing to protect the former with armed guards.

We don’t doubt that LaPierre is as pained as the rest of the nation over the Newtown shooting and is searching for answers.

But the NRA’s response is to ignore a key cause of the problem: the proliferation of powerful guns allowed by permissive gun laws.

It’s up to the rest of us to find the solutions.

Other countries, with far lower gun violence, have embraced straightforward gun restrictions. Options include assault weapon and high-capacity magazine bans, universal background checks, greater efforts to keep guns from people with mental illness, gun and ammunition purchase limits and more stringent efforts to make guns traceable.

It’s never been more clear that the NRA is unwilling consider any alternatives, even in the face of such horrific carnage and such American heartache.

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