WASHINGTON — Lawmakers from both parties voiced their willingness Sunday to pursue some changes to the nation’s gun laws, but adamant opposition from the National Rifle Association has made clear than any such effort will face significant obstacles.
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre dismissed efforts to revive a ban on assault weapons as a “phony piece of legislation” that’s built on lies.
Democratic lawmakers in Congress have become more adamant about the need for stricter gun laws since the shooting of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California is promising to push for a renewal of expired legislation that banned certain weapons and limited the number of bullets a gun magazine could hold to 10.
“I think we ought to be looking at where the real danger is, like those large clips,” said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.
“I think we need a comprehensive approach,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a longtime gun rights supporter. “I’ll look at all the proposals. . I think it looks at mental health, I think it looks at protecting our schools but I also think it looks at these high-volume magazines, you know, that can fire off so many rounds.”
Both lawmakers appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” where NRA President David Keene said lawmakers were asking the wrong question when discussing how many rounds a gun magazine should have.
The right question, he said: “Can we keep guns out of the hands of people who are potential killers?”
LaPierre made 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.
Instead, LaPierre reiterated the group’s support for putting police officers in every school.
“If it’s crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy,” LaPierre said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think the American people think it’s crazy not to do it. It’s the one thing that would keep people safe.”
Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, said he found the NRA’s statements in recent days to be “really disheartening.” Still, he said he agrees with some of the points the group has made about the causes behind violence in America.
“But it’s obviously also true that the easy availability of guns, including military-style assault weapons, is a contributing factor, and you can’t keep that off the table. I had hoped they’d come to the table and say, everything is on the table,” Lieberman said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said LaPierre was “so extreme and so tone deaf” that he was making it easier to pass gun legislation.
“Look, he blames everything but guns: movies, the media, President Obama, gun-free school zones, you name it. And the video games, he blames them,” Schumer said.
Lieberman said the NRA’s stand on new gun rules means passing legislation next year won’t happen easily.
“It’s going to be a battle. But the president, I think, and vice president, are really ready to lead the fight,” he said.