Thursday 18 January 2018

NRA slams door on new gun curbs

National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre makes a statement in Washington (AP/Evan Vucci)
National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre makes a statement in Washington (AP/Evan Vucci)

America's largest gun rights lobby has declared unwavering opposition to any new restrictions in the aftermath of the Connecticut primary school massacre, accusing the White House of trying to undermine the constitutional right to bear arms.

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the influential National Rifle Association, said not a single gun regulation would make children safer.

And he criticised a "media machine" which he said blamed the gun industry for each new attack like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. "Look, a gun is a tool. The problem is the criminal," Mr LaPierre said in a television interview.

He hardly backed down from his comments on Friday, when the NRA broke its week-long silence on the December 14 rampage at Sandy Hook that killed 20 children and six adults. The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, also killed his mother at their home and shot himself as police closed in at the school.

Mr LaPierre's assertion that guns and police officers in all schools would stop the next killer drew widespread scorn.

Democratic congressman Chris Murphy, whose district includes Newtown, called it "the most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen". A headline from the conservative New York Post summarised Mr LaPierre's initial presentation with the headline: "Gun Nut! NRA loon in bizarre rant over Newtown."

On Sunday Mr LaPierre told NBC's Meet The Press that only armed guards and police would make children safe. "If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," he said. "I think the American people think it's crazy not to do it. It's the one thing that would keep people safe."

He asked Congress for money to put a police officer in every school and said the NRA would co-ordinate a national effort to put former military and police in schools as volunteer guards.

The NRA leader dismissed efforts to revive an assault weapons ban as a "phoney piece of legislation" built on lies and made it 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.

US President Barack Obama has said he wants proposals on reducing gun violence that he can take to Congress in January, and after the Connecticut shootings he called on the NRA to join the effort. The President has asked Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and pass legislation that would end a provision that allows people to buy firearms from private parties without a background check. He also has indicated that he wants Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity magazines.

Press Association

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