LaPierre: More background checks not the answer

Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, told a Senate committee on Wednesday that new proposals to ban assault weapons and increase background checks on gun buyers were not likely to solve the problem of gun violence.

LaPierre, who has served as the NRA's proud and combative face in Washington for years, was subdued -- for him -- during his appearance Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He spoke after an emotional appearance by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was grievously wounded in a shooting two years before, and after testimony by Giffords' husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly.

But LaPierre firmly rejected two ideas that have been suggested to prevent gun violence in the aftermath of mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., and at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. An assault weapons ban, he said, would target some of the most popular guns on the market. And, he said, studies have found that an earlier ban on the weapons had "no impact on lowering crime."

Another idea, supported by Kelly in his testimony, was to expand background checks for gun buyers, so that they covered private transactions as well as sales at gun stores. But LaPierre also dismissed that proposal.

"Let's be honest," he said. "Background checks will never be 'universal,' because criminals will never submit to them."

Instead, LaPierre suggested other solutions that did not involve changing the nation's gun laws. He called for more prosecutions under existing gun laws, including a new crackdown on those who lie on background-check forms.

In addition, LaPierre returned to an idea that the NRA first advanced in the aftermath of the shootings that killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., last December. "It's time to throw an immediate blanket of security around our children," he said, by placing more armed guards outside school buildings.

David A. Fahrenthold covers Congress for the Washington Post. He has been at the Post since 2000, and previously covered (in order) the D.C. police, New England, and the environment.

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