The gun-lobby goons were at it again. The National Rifle Association’s security guards gained notoriety earlier this year when, escorting NRA officials to a hearing, they were upbraided by Capitol authorities for pushing cameramen. The thugs were back Tuesday when the NRA rolled out its “National School Shield” — the gun lobbyists’ plan to get armed guards in public schools — and this time they were packing heat.
By journalistic custom and D.C. law, of course, reporters don’t carry guns to news conferences — and certainly not when the person at the lectern is the NRA’s Asa Hutchinson, an unremarkable former congressman and Bush administration official whom most reporters couldn’t pick out of a lineup. But the NRA wasn’t going to leave any doubt about its superior firepower.
Thus has it gone so far in the gun debate in Washington.
If the NRA has its way, as it usually does, states will soon be weakening their gun laws to allow more guns in schools.
Hutchinson claimed that his task force, which came up with these ideas, had “full independence” from the NRA.
The task force garnished the more-guns recommendations with some good ideas, such as better fencing, doors and security monitoring for schools, and more mental-health intervention.
But much of that is in the overall Senate legislation that the NRA is trying to kill.
Hutchinson, queried by a reporter from Connecticut, said that limiting assault weapons is “totally inadequate” because it “doesn’t stop violence in the schools.”
Fox News’s Chad Pergram mentioned the gun-control legislation. “Do you see any common ground?” he asked.
“This will be the common ground,” Hutchinson said of his proposals.
A reporter asked Hutchinson what he was afraid of.
“There’s nothing I’m afraid of. I’m very wide open,” Hutchinson replied, separated from his unarmed questioners by an eight-foot buffer zone, a lectern, a raised podium, a red-velvet rope and a score of gun-toting men. “There’s nothing I’m nervous about.”
DANA MILBANK is a political reporter for The Washington Post and has authored two books on national political campaigns and the national political parties.