LaPierre, shortly after the nation observed a moment of silence for the 20 children and six teachers slaughtered one week ago at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., said the "only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." He also blamed violent movies and video games, which he said encourage violence.
The NRA had been keeping a low profile as calls for new gun control measures mounted in the wake of last Friday's shooting in which Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother to death in their Newtown home as she slept and then forced his way into the school and opened fire. He then killed himself.
LaPierre, who declined to take questions from reporters, said NRA members are just as sickened by the massacre as anyone else.
"Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones," LaPierre said. "They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them.
"And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk. ...
"How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame -- from a national media machine that rewards them with the wall-to-wall attention and sense of identity that they crave -- while provoking others to try to make their mark?
"A dozen more killers? A hundred? More? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?
"And the fact is, that wouldn't even begin to address the much larger and more lethal criminal class: Killers, robbers, rapists and drug gang members who have spread like cancer in every community in this country."
LaPierre attacked the entertainment industry.
"A child growing up in America witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18," he said, saying rather than attack the root cause, "the media demonize lawful gun owners." He also accused the media of spreading misinformation that "all but guarantee[s] that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away."
LaPierre urged Congress to provide sufficient funds to pay for armed police officers in every school.
"I call on Congress today [Friday] to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school -- and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January," he said.