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(NECN/NBC News: Brian Mooar) - In his first interview after the Connecticut shooting tragedy, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre was defiant.
"Look, a gun is a tool,” LaPierre said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The problem is the criminal."
The powerful gun lobby and its allies insists gun laws aren't the answer -- they want more guns in the hands of good guys.
“If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our school to protect our children, then call me crazy,” LaPierre said.
"People resisted having weapons on airplanes, but I oversaw the federal air marshals. They're a deterrent,” said NRA school safety program director Asa Hutchinson.
Legislation will have to wait for the new Congress to get settled in, but the debate is already under way.
"Trying to prevent shootings in schools without talking about guns is like trying to prevent lung cancer without talking about cigarettes,” said Sen. Chuck Shumer (D-New York).
"We're not one law away from solving this problem -- it runs deep and it runs wide,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).
Outside of Atlanta this weekend, gun owners are voting with their wallets, buying up guns while they can.
"I don't think it’s ever a wrong time to protect yourself and exercise your second amendment rights,” said Steve Nettles of Acworth, Ga.
In New Haven, Conn., gun owners were surrendering their arms for cash in one of a number of gun buy-back programs around the country. This event netted 64 firearms.
Organizers said that's not a disappointment -- it's a start.
LaPierre insists the NRA is as influential as ever and predicts a public backlash against lawmakers who try to ban guns.