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The battle over the right to bear arms has begun

Wayne LaPierre, Vice Executive President of the NRA, addresses a news conference. Photo: Reuters

It was a stunning, twin-barrelled, machine-gun style approach from the gun lobby. The sawn-off shotgun answer to the issue of weapons in America.

The briefest of expressions of sympathy to the people of Newtown and the parents of Sandy Hook. Then an extraordinary defence of guns. Schools should be defended by armed guards, argued Wayne LaPierre at his news conference.

As the NRA put it today: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

The NRA argues that American politicians have gone soft and have over-regulated the country's law-abiding gun owners.

His arguments will trouble many teachers and school principals across America. They will cause outrage in Newtown.

A protestor holding up a sign is removed by a security guard during an NRA news conference. Credit: Reuters

But here's the thing. The arguments put forward today by LaPierre - seen as absurd by many outside the USA - will be widely supported in many parts of America. NRA supporters will say that it's true that a well-trained guard at Sandy Hook a week ago might have saved the children by killing Adam Lanza, as he entered the school.

Many people, including some in Newtown this week, have approached me and said that pilots have access to a weapon in the cockpit as a last resort and that now one teacher or official in every school should also be armed.

We now know the NRA will not agree to even the slightest concession on limiting weapons.

The battle over the second amendment has begun.