'If it's crazy to put police in schools, then call me crazy'

NRA's LaPierre unrepentant despite condemnation of his pro-gun speech

The head of America's largest pro-gun lobby group, who sparked outrage with a call for armed guards at every school in the wake of the Newtown shootings, yesterday dismissed plans for the restoration of an anti-assault weapons law as a "phony piece of legislation".

National Rifle Association (NRA) chief executive Wayne LaPierre's plea for politicians in Washington DC to post armed policemen at schools was met with heated debate on Friday, as the US attempts to come to terms with the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"If it's crazy to call for putting police in and securing our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," Mr LaPierre told NBC's Meet the Press yesterday.

He mocked Senator Diane Feinstein's plan for an anti-assault weapons law, which would ban more than 100 firearms, refusing to acknowledge that guns were part of the problem. Instead, he argued in favour of a national database for the mentally ill.

"I know this town [Washington DC] wants to argue about gun control… I don't think it will work," he said.

Nor, he suggested, would a measure to limit the capacity of magazines help to reduce the scope of mass shootings. At Sandy Hook, Adam Lanza killed 26 people, including 20 children, by loading his rifle with 30-round magazines – cartridges with the ability to fire 30 shots before needing to be replaced. Pressed a number of times about measures to limit the rounds in such magazines, Mr LaPierre was intransigent, saying a "monster" bent on killing innocents could find "so many different ways" to get around any restrictions.

The NRA position has drawn criticism both from the left and the right. The Democratic Senator-elect Chris Murphy, whose district encompasses Newtown, labelled the NRA chief's speech on Friday "the most revolting, tone-deaf statement I've ever seen", while the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, called it "very disturbing".

Meanwhile, Ryan Lanza, the older brother of the killer, said he is a victim of the massacre because he lost both his mother and brother.

In a message to the New York Post posted via Facebook, Ryan Lanza also posted pictures of his relatives, with a message under each one. For Adam, he wrote: "I will miss you bro. I will always love you as long as I live." For his mother, Nancy Lanza, who was shot dead in her home, he wrote: "I miss you mom. I love you so much. You will be always in my heart."

Mr Lanza said he was responding to negative comments he had received about his brother's actions. "I am so tired of people blaming me for something my brother did... you have no right to call my brother names when he isn't here no more. Just let my brother rest in peace..." he wrote.

President Obama has set a January deadline for a task force led by Vice President Joe Biden to report back to him with proposals on ways to reduce gun violence. Without outlining specifics, Mr Obama last week said he would act on the recommendations "without delay".