After a controversial press conference last week, NRA head Wayne LaPierre made an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" saying the American people would be "crazy" to not put armed guards in schools. Meanwhile, Newtown, Conn., continues coping with the death of 26 people during the tragic shooting. NBC's Ron Mott report.
Updated 10:50 a.m. ET: On NBC’s Meet the Press, National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre on Sunday refused to support new gun control legislation and maintained his support for putting armed guards and police in schools in response to the Dec. 14 school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
“If it’s crazy to call for putting police in and securing our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy,” LaPierre told NBC’s David Gregory. “I think the American people think it’s crazy not to do it. It’s the one thing that would keep people safe and the NRA is going try to do that.”
He added that the United States is now spending $2 billion to train police officers in Iraq and asked why federal funds could not be spent to train school guards to protect schools in the United States.
Asked about restricting the size of ammunition magazine or clips, LaPierre said, “I don’t believe that’s going to make one difference. There are so many different ways to evade that, even if you had that. You had that for 10 years when (Sen.) Dianne Feinstein passed that ban in ’94. It was on the books. Columbine occurred right in the middle of it – it didn’t make any difference.”
For the first time since the Connecticut shootings, NRA Chief Wayne LaPierre answers questions from NBC's David Gregory about his organization's stance on gun violence in America.
Feinstein, D-Calif., was the author of the 1994 ban on certain types of semiautomatic firearms which expired in 2004. She has announced 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.
“I know there’s a media machine in this country that wants to blame guns every time something happens,” LaPierre said, but he insisted that an armed guard might have been able to stop Adam Lanza, the killer in Connecticut.
“If I’m a mom or a dad and I’m dropping my child off at school I’d feel a whole lot safer” if there were trained armed security guards or police protecting the school from people such as Lanza, LaPierre said, although he conceded that “nothing is perfect” as a deterrent against crime.
LaPierre also said, “We have a mental health system in this country that has completely and totally collapsed. We have no national database of these lunatics” and complained that de-institutionalization of the mentally ill had put too many dangerous people on the streets of America. “We have a completely cracked mentally ill system that’s got these monsters walking the streets,” LaPierre said.
And he said many states do not put their records of those adjudicated to be mentally ill into the national instant check system that is designed to screen out convicted criminals and the mentally ill from buying guns.
The NRA CEO also argued that the federal government had invested far too little effort into enforcing the longstanding federal law that makes it illegal for convicted felons to possess guns. The federal effort to enforce existing restrictions on gun possession, he said, is “pitiful.”
On Meet the Press, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre forcefully defended his call for armed officers in every school. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.
He said, “If you want to control violent criminals, take them off the street.”
But he firmly opposed curbs on private gun sales and contended that the advocates of stringent restrictions on such sales want to put “every gun sale under the thumb of the federal government.”
LaPierre called Feinstein’s bill “a phony piece of legislation” which he predicted would not become law.
After a week of silence following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School the NRA responded, saying armed guns in schools is the answer. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said Wayne LaPierre, NRA's executive vice president. NBC's John Harwood reports.
President Barack Obama has tasked Vice President Joe Biden with the job of consulting with members of the Cabinet and outside organizations to come up with legislative proposals by next month.
When asked about this initiative, LaPierre said, “if it’s a panel that’s just going to be made up of a bunch of people that for the past 20 years has been trying to destroy the Second Amendment, I’m not interested in sitting on that panel…. The NRA is not going to let people lose the Second Amendment in this country.”
Following LaPierre on Meet the Press, Sen. Charles Schumer, D- N.Y., said that the NRA leader is “so extreme and so tone deaf that he actually helps the cause of us passing sensible gun legislation in the Congress…. He is so doctrinaire and so adamant that I believe gun owners turn against him as well.”
Schumer said that LaPierre believes “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is good gun with a gun. What about trying to stop the bad guy from getting the gun in the first place? That’s common sense. Most Americans agree with it.”
But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R- S.C., said killers such as Lanza were “non-traditional criminals… people who are not wired right for some reason. And I don’t know if there’s anything Lindsey Graham can do in the Senate to stop mass murder from somebody that’s hell bent on doing crazy things” -- apart from better security in schools. The South Carolina Republican also called for getting “mass murders off the streets before they act, by better mental health detection.”
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.
Graham said that while he was out Christmas shopping in South Carolina this weekend, people “have come up to me (and said) ‘Please don’t let the government take my guns away.’ And I’m going to stand against the assault (weapons) ban because it didn’t work before and it won’t work in the future.”
LaPierre’s appearance on Meet the Press followed the strong reaction over his defiant stand during a Friday press briefing about the NRA’s response to the Connecticut school shootings.
Amid a national debate over what security measures school administrators should take to ensure the safety of students, gun-control advocates reacted with disbelief Friday to LaPierre’s call for armed guards in every school and his blaming of Hollywood films, video games, and popular music for school shootings such as the one in Connecticut.
How firmly the NRA’s allies in Congress will oppose any new legislative initiatives from Obama, Feinstein or others remains an open question.
In a test of the NRA’s legislative influence, the House of Representatives late last year passed the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, which has not yet been acted on by the Senate.
In the House vote, 229 Republicans and 43 Democrats voted for the NRA-backed bill.
The House bill allows a person with a photo identification card and a valid permit to carry a concealed firearm in one state to carry a concealed handgun in another state in accordance with the restrictions of that second state.
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