In the days after the Connecticut school massacre, the National Rifle Association was conspicuously absent from the gun control debate that had already begun.

The powerful gun rights lobby broke its silence a week later at a widely publicized news conference during which, it promised, it would "offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."

Any hopes for a breakthrough in the national dialogue about commonsense gun regulations in light of this horrific crime and others like it disappeared when Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA, took the podium.

His contribution: Put armed police officers and volunteers in every school in America.

"If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," LaPierre later said.

The suggestion is not necessarily crazy -- perhaps not feasible or desirable, even, but not crazy. Many public buildings already are protected by armed security, so why not schools?

What's insane is that LaPierre and the NRA continued to cling to their increasingly out-of-step insistence that readily available, high-powered weapons and large-capacity magazines have nothing to do with the epidemic of mass shootings in this country.

It's the same problem we have with a proposal by Mike Regan, our new Republican state representative in the 92nd District now drafting legislation to put retired, armed law enforcement officials in every Pennsylvania school.

Some York County school district officials didn't dismiss the idea outright.

However, South Western School District Superintendent Barbara Rupp noted there was an armed security guard at Columbine High School during the 1999 shooting that left 13 victims and the two shooters dead. She said there's nothing she can do to guarantee total safety.

Dover Area School District Superintendent Robert Krantz said if the state were paying for it all, he'd welcome such a proposal. But state funding for education is already tight, and he doesn't want to see the money cut further to pay for armed guards.

Regan acknowledged it would be difficult for either the state or school districts to foot the bill, but said, "At what cost do we not do something?"

By that reasoning, why not put an armed guard in every classroom in every school or in every auditorium in every movie theater in the country -- anywhere crowds of potential victims might gather?

To some, like LaPierre, that probably sounds like a good idea.

For those of us who don't wish to live in a society that must be armed to the teeth at all times, it sounds like surrender.

It's saying there's no other way to deal with this problem.

That's not the case, and even responsible gun owners recognize this.

Our national response to tragedies like those at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., must be comprehensive.

The goal should be trying to prevent them from occurring -- not simply posting an armed guard and hoping he or she can fend off a lunatic with an assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Everything should be on the table -- banning the sale of military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, creating a better system of background checks for gun purchasers, improving our mental health system and taking a sober look at the culture of violence in our media.

That's the discussion that's happening right now, and it would be helpful if people like Regan and LaPierre would join it.