National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre pauses as he makes a statement during a news conference in response to the Connecticut school shooting, on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 in Washington. The National Rifle Association broke its silence Friday on last week's shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 children and staff dead.
Evan Vucci, Associated Press - Ap
NRA rejects any new gun laws
- Article by: KEVIN FREKING
- Associated Press
- December 23, 2012 - 10:34 PM
WASHINGTON - An unwavering National Rifle Association (NRA) said Sunday that not a single new gun regulation would make children safer, that "a media machine" relishes blaming the gun industry for each new attack such as the one that occurred at a Connecticut elementary school a week ago, and that a White House task force on gun violence may try to undermine the Second Amendment.
"Look, a gun is a tool. The problem is the criminal," Wayne LaPierre, executive director of the nation's largest gun-rights lobby, said during a nationally broadcast TV interview. LaPierre held firm on his comments from Friday, when the NRA broke its weeklong silence after the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
His assertion that guns and police officers in all schools are what will stop the next killer drew widespread scorn. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., whose district encompasses Newtown, on Friday called it "the most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen." A headline from the New York Post summarized LaPierre's initial presentation with the headline: "Gun Nut! NRA loon in bizarre rant over Newtown."
LaPierre told NBC's "Meet the Press" again on Sunday that only armed guards and police would make kids safe.
"If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," LaPierre said. "I think the American people think it's crazy not to do it."
He asked Congress for money to put a police officer in every school. He also said the NRA would coordinate a national effort to put former military and police officers in schools as volunteer guards.
The NRA leader dismissed efforts to revive the assault weapons ban as a "phony piece of legislation" built on lies. He made clear it was highly unlikely that the NRA could support any new gun regulations.
"You want one more law on top of 20,000 laws, when most of the federal gun laws we don't even enforce?" he said.
LaPierre said another focus in preventing shootings is to lock up violent criminals and get the mentally ill the treatment they need.
"The average guy in the country values his freedom, doesn't believe the fact he can own a gun is part of the problem, and doesn't like the media and all these high-profile politicians blaming him," he said.
Some lawmakers were incredulous yet acknowledged that the political and fundraising might of the NRA would make President Obama's push for gun restrictions a struggle.
"I have found the statements by the NRA over the last couple of days to be really disheartening," said Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent.
He said the NRA is right in some of the points it makes about the causes of gun violence.
"But it's obviously also true that the easy availability of guns, including military-style assault weapons, is a contributing factor. ... I had hoped they'd come to the table and say, 'Everything is on the table,'" Lieberman said.
Obama has said he wants proposals on reducing gun violence that he can take to Congress in January, and after the Dec. 14 shootings, he called on the NRA to join the effort.
The president has asked Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and pass legislation that would end a provision that allows people to purchase firearms from private parties without a background check. Obama also has indicated that he wants Congress to consider limiting high-capacity magazines.
If Obama's review is "just going to be made up of a bunch of people that, for the last 20 years, have been trying to destroy the Second Amendment, I'm not interested in sitting on that panel," LaPierre said.
The NRA has asked former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., to lead a program designed to use volunteers from the group's 4.3 million members to help guard children.
Hutchinson, who was an undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security when it was formed, said the NRA's position was a "very reasonable approach" that he compared to the federal air marshal program that places armed guards on flights.
© 2013 Star Tribune