In his speech, NRA chief executive officer Wayne LaPierre said Congress should appropriate funds to post an armed police officer in every school. In the meantime, he said the NRA would develop a school emergency response program that would include volunteers from the group's 4.3 million members to help guard children.
The NRA's call came two days after a Kentucky county sheriff announced on Facebook that deputies would have an increased school presence beginning in January. The announcement was met with dozens of notes of thanks and positive comments from parents.
"Thank you so very much," wrote one commenter. "I can stop stressing a little while at work now."
"This is the best news we could have received for Christmas!" wrote another.
Monte Evans, a sixth grade teacher in Wichita, Kan., said schools should have a designated point person licensed and trained to shoot a gun.
"What am I going to stop them with? A stapler?" said Evans, an NRA member. "You need equal force."
Rose Davis, 47, who lives in Chicago's South Side Englewood neighborhood and helps care for her two young grandchildren, said she supports the idea of having armed police officers in schools. Her neighborhood is beset by gang violence and she worries about it spilling into schools.
"With the things going on today, you really don't feel secure," she said.
Even those who support the proposal, however, questioned how practical it would be.
"The real question is sustainability," said Ken Trump, president of the Cleveland-based consulting firm National School Safety and Security Services. "In the long haul, how are you going to fund that?"
But Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the nation's largest teachers' unions, called the NRA's idea "irresponsible and dangerous."
"Schools must be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses," she said.
Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that posting armed guards outside schools wouldn't make classrooms safer or encourage learning.
"You can't make this (school) an armed camp for kids," he said.
Jacina Haro, a college educator from Malden, Mass., and the mother of two young children said the solution shouldn't be about having more weapons on campus.
"Schools shouldn't be about guns," said the 38-year-old. "It should be a safe place to learn, free from weapons and the like. I understand wanting to protect our children, but I don't know if that's the right solution. It's a scary solution."
Associated Press writers Frank Eltman in Mineola, N.Y.; Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia; Barbara Rodriguez in Des Moines, Iowa; Jason Keyser in Chicago, Sean Murphy, Oklahoma City; Colleen long in New York; Colleen Slevin in Denver and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Ala., contributed to this report.