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Four dead in another US shooting spree

Gun lobby urges armed police in every school

Wayne La Pierre

Wayne La Pierre

Four people died yesterday and several police officers were wounded in a shooting spree in rural Pennsylvania, officials said.

The shootings, exactly a week after a massacre of 20 children and six adults at a school in Connecticut, “happened over a large area” near Geeseytown, in a remote part of the eastern US state, Diane Meling, a spokeswoman for the Blair County Emergency Management Agency, told AFP.

“Four people were shot dead. That number of four includes the alleged shooter,” she said. “There were several Pennsylvania state troopers injured, I understand none seriously.”

The bloodshed came as the United States’ most powerful pro-gun lobbying group demanded that armed police be deployed to every school in the country.

The National Rifle Association, which defends what it sees as US citizens’ constitutional right to bear arms, had been under pressure to respond in the wake of last week’s massacre.

But NRA leaders, in a combative and determined public appearance, ceded no ground to those calling for tougher gun laws.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” declared NRA vice-president Wayne La Pierre, in the group’s first reaction since the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation,” he said, in a lengthy statement. He took no questions from reporters.

La Pierre said the NRA was ready to help train security teams for schools and work with teachers and parents to improve security measures, and accused the media and the political class of demonising gun owners.

Last Friday, a troubled 20-year-old man burst into the Sandy Hook school and gunned down 20 children and six staff members trying to protect them, before taking his own life. The massacre was only the latest in a series of mass shootings in the US this year, and prompted President Barack Obama to throw his weight behind plans to revive a ban on assault weapons.

America has suffered an epidemic of gun violence over the last three decades including 62 mass shooting incidents since 1982.

The vast majority of weapons used have been semi-automatic weapons obtained legally by the killers.

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