In his first public comments since last week's shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, a defiant National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for more armed security on U.S. military bases.
"This is a tragedy that should not have happened, a memorial service that should not be taking place, and victims that should not be victims," LaPierre said in an interview with David Gregory on NBC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday. "In a post-9/11 world, a naval base within miles from Congress, the White House, seven miles from here, largely left unprotected. A terrorist target, a high-value terrorist target completely unprotected. That can't stand. [The] N.R.A. is calling today for layers of security around our military bases."
Just as he did in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., LaPierre called for more guns — not fewer — in an effort to protect potential victims of gun violence.
"The whole country, David, knows the problem is there weren't enough good guys with guns," LaPierre said. "When the good guys with guns got there, it stopped."
The suspected gunman, Aaron Alexis, shot and killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday before he was killed by law enforcement.
"All these brave men and women that are trained in firearms, that signed up to serve in the military, they're largely disarmed on our military bases," LaPierre said. "We need to look at letting the men and women that know firearms and are trained in them do what they do best, which is protect and survive.
"How could anybody look at what happened this week and say there was enough security there?" he continued. "I mean, there was one guy, a private security firm. God bless him, he ran toward the fire. There were six others there that were guarding the gates. The Capitol Hill SWAT team was told to stand down. Where's the outrage about that? The radios didn't work. We need to turn seven minutes' response, we need to turn 30 minutes before they bring down the shooter into seven seconds and 30 seconds. That's what we need to be doing, and that's what I'm talking about with armed response. There's not a homeowner in northern Virginia that, if somebody's breaking in their door, would be satisfied with 30 minutes."
LaPierre also criticized the media and Democratic lawmakers for trying to turn the Navy Yard tragedy into a debate over gun control.
"The outrage ought to be placed on an unprotected naval base; on a criminal justice system, in Chicago, that doesn't even enforce the federal gun laws," he said, "on a mental health system that is completely broken; on a check system that is a complete joke in terms of stopping the bad guys.
"Here's what happens," LaPierre continued. "The Aurora shooter in Colorado gets checked, and is cleared. The Tucson shooter gets checked and gets cleared. Aaron Alexis goes to the federal and state check and gets cleared, because the mental health system makes this person completely unrecognizable."
The NRA, he said, is open to a discussion about working with lawmakers to fix the mental health system that's allowed a string of mass shooters to legally buy firearms, but that nothing would come of it.
"I'll tell you what's going to happen," LaPierre said. "We're going to have this discussion today; it's on other channels. [But] when the camera goes off, nobody's going to do anything."
I'll tell you what the N.R.A.'s for: Indict, incarcerate violent criminals. Get them off the street. Indict people that are having mental problems; get them into treatment. Enforce the federal gun laws. If there's a drug dealer with a gun in Chicago [breaking] federal law, Eric Holder, prosecute them. Fix the mental health system, and let's get our fiscal house into order so that we can stop releasing the bad guys back to the street.