NRA chief says Washington Navy Yard was not "protected"



National Rifle Association President David Keene, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and other leaders hold a news conference at the Willard Hotel December 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. This is the first public appearance that leaders of the gun rights group have made since a 20-year-old man used a popular assult-style rifle to slaughter 20 school children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connnecticut, one week ago.

NRA Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Chris Cox


Chip Somodovilla

The head of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the United States criticized the Washington Navy Yard for being "unprotected" after last week's mass shooting.

"This was a tragedy that should not have happened," NRA head Wayne LaPierre said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"In a post 9/11 world, a naval base within miles from Congress, the White House ... largely left unprotected," he went on to say.

The shooting at the Navy Yard saw 13 dead, including the shooter. The culprit has been identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, 34, who used a recently purchased shotgun to commit the murders.

On Sunday, President Barack Obama attended a memorial for the shooting victims and said Americans should honor them by insisting on a change in the nation's gun laws.

"Sometimes I fear there is a creeping resignation that these tragedies are just somehow the way it is, that this is somehow the new normal. We cannot accept this," Obama said. "It ought to obsess us."

More from GlobalPost: Washington Navy Yard gunman's mother: 'My heart is broken'

Reports suggest that Alexis may have suffered from a mental illness but so far there is only speculation.

The NRA has said that there should be layers of security - read: armed guards - around all US military facilities.

"There weren't enough good guys with guns. When the good guys with guns got there, it stopped," LaPierre said.

The gun lobby group, which works to lift restrictions on gun ownership and use, has stressed that getting guns out of the hands of the mentally ill should be the priority.

LaPierre has said the US mental health system is in "complete breakdown."

The NRA's campaign to shift the blame on mental health appears to be working. A recent Gallup poll said that less Americans are calling for stricter gun regulations and