WASHINGTON - An unwavering National Rifle Association said Sunday that not a single new gun regulation was needed to prevent mass shootings such as the one at a Connecticut elementary school, that "a media machine" relishes blaming the gun industry for each new attack and that a White House task force on gun violence may try to undermine the Second Amendment.
"Look, a gun is a tool. The problem is the criminal," the CEO of the nation's largest gun-rights lobby said in a nationally broadcast television interview, mocking supporters of gun controls.
Wayne LaPierre hardly backed down from his comments Friday, when the NRA broke its weeklong silence on the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in a staged event billed as a news conference - though questions weren't allowed.
While the group had promised "meaningful contributions" to ensure that such an attack never happened again, LaPierre's assertion that guns and police officers in all schools are what will stop the next killer drew widespread scorn, and even some NRA supporters in Congress are publicly disagreeing with the group. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., called it "the most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen." A headline from the New York Post summarized LaPierre's initial presentation before reporters with the headline: "Gun Nut! NRA loon in bizarre rant over Newtown."
LaPierre told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that only those armed guards and police would make kids safe, and that a culture of violence popularized by the entertainment industry - movies, music, video games - was responsible for senseless shootings.
"If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," LaPierre said. "I think the American people think it's crazy not to do it. It's the one thing that would keep people safe."
He asked Congress for money to put a police officer in every school, and the NRA would coordinate a national effort to put former military and police offers in schools as volunteer guards.
The group will oppose any new gun restrictions on Capitol Hill.
"You want one more law on top of 20,000 laws, when most of the federal gun laws we don't even enforce," he said.
Lock up violent criminals and get the mentally ill the treatment they need, LaPierre said.
"The average guy in the country values his freedom, doesn't believe the fact he can own a gun is part of the problem, and doesn't like the media and all these high profile politicians blaming him, and every time a tragedy" occurs.
Lawmakers were incredulous, yet acknowledged that the political and fundraising might of the NRA would make President Barack Obama's push for gun restrictions a struggle.
"I have found the statements by the NRA over the last couple of days to be really disheartening, because the statements seem to not reflect any understanding about the slaughter of children" in Newtown, said Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent.
NRA officials, he said, "have been willing to deal with every possible cause of gun violence, except guns. They're right that there's a problem for our society - how do you spot a child or a person who is troubled before they become a killer? What's the influence of violence in our entertainment culture on people? But it's obviously also true that the easy availability of guns, including military style assault weapons, is a contributing factor, and you can't keep that off the table."
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said LaPierre is "so extreme and so tone deaf that he actually helps the cause of us passing sensible gun legislation in the Congress. Look, he blames everything but guns: movies, the media, President Obama, gun-free school zones. You name it, and the video games, he blames them."
Obama has said he wants proposals on reducing gun violence that he can take to Congress in January, and after the Dec. 14 shootings, he called on the NRA to join the effort. The president has asked Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and pass legislation that would end a provision that allows people to purchase firearms from private parties without a background check. Obama also has indicated that he wants Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity magazines.