After a week of calls for tighter gun restrictions, the National Rifle Association called for putting more armed security officers in the nation's schools and expressed concerns about violence portrayed in video games, movies and music. NBC's Pete Williams reports.
National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre blamed Hollywood, video games music, the courts and more on Friday for creating a culture of violence in the United States.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said at a Washington press event, adding, “With all the money in the federal budget can’t we afford to put a police officer in every single school?”
LaPierre made his lengthy statement to the press one week after the shooting that killed 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Conn.
Protesters twice interrupted LaPierre, who will appear this Sunday exclusively on NBC's "Meet the Press," holding signs reading "NRA KILLING OUR KIDS," and screaming that the gun rights group has "blood on its hands."
He said that elected officials had no authority to deny Americans the right and the ability to protect themselves and their families from harm.
And he noted that there are millions of active and retired police officers, military veterans, and private security guards – “an extraordinary corps of patriotic, trained, qualified citizens” – who should devise a protection plan for every school.
“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.
He said that laws that established gun-free school zones have had the effect of telling “every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”
LaPierre said America has left its schoolchildren “utterly defenseless -- and the monsters and the predators of the world know it and exploit it.”
He criticized Congress for not creating a national database of the mentally ill and called for increased federal prosecution of those who illegally possess guns.
LaPierre did not indicate that the NRA would support any additional restrictions on the sale or possession of guns. He ridiculed the idea that “one more gun ban or one more law imposed on peaceful, lawful people will protect us where 20,000 other laws have failed.”
Meet the Press moderator David Gregory says he will ask the NRA's Wayne LaPierre whether or not he's open to having a broader discussion about gun violence with President Obama.
He assailed the news media which he said had “demonized gun owners.”
And he said “the next Adam Lanza” is “waiting in the wings” and argued that copycat killers are encouraged by “a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave.”
He also criticized the video game industry and Hollywood movie studios for films such as “American Psycho” and “Natural Born Killers.”
On Wednesday President Barack Obama asked Vice President Joe Biden to lead an effort that includes members of the Cabinet and outside organizations to devise concrete legislative gun restriction proposals by next month, “proposals that I then intend to push without delay,” Obama said.
He said he would “use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies” such as the shootings in Connecticut.
House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said, “When the vice president's recommendations come forward, we'll certainly take them into consideration.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the author of the 1994 ban on certain types of semiautomatic firearms which expired in 2004, announced this week that she will introduce new legislation early next year.
Semiautomatic firearms, including semiautomatic weapons sometimes called “assault weapons,” fire one round per pull of the trigger.
Her bill would outlaw the sale, transfer, importation and manufacture of more than 100 specifically-named firearms as well as certain semiautomatic rifles, handguns and shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds.
Feinstein would also outlaw large-capacity ammunition magazines capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.
Her measure would also “grandfather” weapons legally possessed on the date of enactment and exempt more than 900 specifically-named weapons used for hunting and sporting purposes, according to a statement from her office on Monday.
The number of murders committed with guns has declined sharply in the past 20 years.
The rate of firearms-related murders in 2011 was 3.2 per 100,000 people. In 1993 the rate of firearms-related murders was 6.6 per 100,000 people. The number of firearms-related murder victims dropped from more than 17,000 in 1993 to 9,903 in 2011.
Yet the shootings in Connecticut have raised the possibility that Congress might enact restrictive legislation that would incorporate the 1994 ban as well as measures to increase funding for treatment of mentally ill people.
It is not yet clear what specific legislation, in addition to Feinstein’s bill, will be proposed in Congress and which measures Obama would throw his weight behind.
He did say during the second debate with his Republican opponent Mitt Romney that he wanted to see “if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago, there's an awful lot of violence and they're not using AK-47s. They're using cheap hand guns.”
He added, “What I want is a comprehensive strategy. Part of it is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. But part of it is also going deeper and seeing if we can get into these communities and making sure we catch violent impulses before they occur.”
The outcome of legislative efforts in the Senate may well be determined by Democratic senators from states where there’s strong support for the rights of gun owners.
Following the school shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, says "vicious, violent video games" like "Mortal Combat" and "GTA," along with "blood-soaked films" like "Natural Born Killers," "bring criminal cruelty into our homes each and every day."
Sen. Joe Manchin, D- W.W., who was just re-elected in November, has given mixed signals on his readiness to support restrictions on semiautomatic weapons.
Manchin said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Monday that, “I’m a proud NRA member and always have been. But we need to sit down and move this dialogue to a sensible, reasonable approach…. I don`t know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle. I don`t know anybody that needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting.”
But two days later in an interview with West Virginia talk radio host Hoppy Kercheval, Manchin seemed to edge away from his statement on Monday. Manchin said he was “not supporting a ban on anything. I'm supporting a conversation on everything."
When Kercheval asked Manchin if he regretted what he’d said on Morning Joe. "I'm saying it more articulate today," Manchin replied.
In addition to Manchin and another centrist Democrat, senator-elect Joe Donnelly of Indiana who has received NRA backing in past elections, there are half dozen Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014 who represent states that are more protective of gun owners’ rights, for example, Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska.
A long-dormant national conversation about guns has reignited: some are calling for an assault weapons ban while other feel guns themselves aren't the root of the problem. So far the shootings have sparked several gun buy-back programs and even an anti-gun video organized by big-city mayors – but the NRA says it's the entertainment industry that is partly to blame. NBC's John Yang reports.