“I do believe better security in schools is a good place to start,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who rejected the notion of government action to ban sales of the kind of assault-style weapons used in the Newtown shootings. “I don’t suggest you take my right to buy an AR-15 away from me, because I don’t think it will work,” he said.
White House officials said they were not encouraged by the NRA approach and reiterated the administration’s commitment to regulating assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.
“I don’t think it’s what will work,” said Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president, in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He characterized legislation to ban assault weapons authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) as “a phony piece of legislation . . . built on lies.”
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) , interviewed Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” show, said the NRA statements were “really disheartening.”
“I had hoped they would come to the table and say ‘everything on is on the table.’ What this does mean is that the kind of new regulation of guns that President Obama and Vice President Biden and a lot of people would like to see enacted early next year is not going to happen easily. It’s going to be a battle.”
Meantime, around the country state legislators and school board members began their own debate over the NRA schools initiative, with officials from Maine to Minnesota and South Dakota and Texas discussing whether it would be good policy to have guns in the hands of teachers or others in the schools as a way to curb violence.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said Sunday, repeating a theme from a Friday news conference in which he announced the new NRA campaign to place a police officer or an armed guard in every school.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday on “Meet the Press” that LaPierre was “so tone deaf he actually helps the cause of us passing sensible gun legislation . . .”
Citing polling data, Democrats have said that they think there is an opportunity to exploit a gulf between the membership of the NRA — particularly powerful in rural areas — and the group’s outspoken leadership in Washington.
Hunters and NRA members are asking for a ban on military assault-style weapons, said Rep. Mike Thompson, the Vietnam veteran and avid hunter from California who has been named point man for House Democrats on the issue. Longtime NRA backers, such as Rep. Gene Green (D-Tex.) questioned last week whether the NRA had become too closely associated with the Republican Party and was losing some of its political clout with Democrats.