Newtown shootings: Obama v the NRA


Wayne LaPierre, of the NRA, says Congress should "act immediately" to put armed police in US schools

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has a reputation as perhaps the most powerful lobby group in American politics.

There are varying reports on how much it spent during the last election, - some say it was much as $24m (£15m), others that it was slightly less. Whatever the number, it was a significant total.

The NRA has more than four million members. Many senators and congress members proudly boast if they are given an "A-rating" by the organisation.

Yet its news conference in response to the Newtown massacre felt nothing like the slick product of a group gifted in public relations.

Those who expected emollient words, hints of reasonable compromise and grave consideration of their opponents' plans were sorely disappointed.

Their leader, Wayne LaPierre, harangued the assembled press for over half an hour, impassioned, furious, and not a little eccentric in his fury.

'Difficult, fraught battle'

He talked of the way he had endured the mockery of the media, who hated gun owners; he talked of the "filthy pornography" of violent video games and listed some old films.

But the core of his argument was: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

US President Barack Obama The Obama administration has promised to push for action on gun control

He asked how was it that banks and airports, the president and celebrities all had armed guards, but that children did not. He called for armed police at every school and offered a programme to train schools in security.

A recent opinion poll by Gallup suggests a majority of Americans - 53% - agree with his response to the murders, rather than a ban on assault rifles, which is supported by 43%.

You do not have to go too far on the internet to find those who believe far more than that.

There are those who believe that the president is plotting to take away their guns in a plan to impose an unspecified tyranny on America.

Yesterday I read a fairly mainstream outlet treating us to a comparison between Adolf Hitler and President Barack Obama.

The stage is set for a huge political and cultural battle in the new year.

Mr LaPierre's statement gave no hint of reflection, there was no glimmer of a suggestion that he thought he could win over opponents.

This was an outpouring of outrage that would delight those who agree with him. It was not a subtle appeal across the political spectrum, designed to make people stop and think that he has a point.

This is going to be a big battle. President Obama, in a video response to a 400,000 signature petition calling for gun control, says "we hear you", adding he will do everything in his power to ban assault rifles.

The president has decided that in the new year he will begin a difficult, fraught battle over one of the most divisive, emotional, issues in American politics.

Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • Comment number 21.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Hello Wayne LaPierre! Earth calling. In the UK we have no schools where teachers are armed with guns. Yet we have only ever had ONE mass school shooting. Are you seriously suggesting we, too, in the UK, should have armed teachers? No. Of course not. Why not? Because we don't have guns at large in society!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I wonder if he's done the calculations on the likely number of kids who would be killed acidentally by his plans? Let's assume that armed guards might save half of shooting victims (optimistic!), then that would be perhaps 20 lives save per year. Does he really think that filling schools with guns would kill LESS than that through accidents (guns killed 198 US children accidentally in 2007)

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    Comment number 18.

    Brevik is no real comparison, he was a terrorist like Tim McVeigh. bombs included He wanted to get a full auto AK, failed so used a legal weapon, full auto AK would have made the death toll far worse. Armed up schools? Insane. The CT killer had an assault weapon and body armour. Logically schools should have the same? Crazy. And that money the NRA spent in the election, didn't work, did it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    An armed security guard might, might, have saved some lives last week. However, he would have been hopelessly out-gunned by multiple 30-round rifle magazines.

    If the NRA are so concerned about saving children, surely part of their plan would be to ban weapons that can easily kill a "good guy". Unless they propose that the good guy has an M16 in kindergarten......

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Sorry, nothing is going to change about gun control in America. Nothing.

    Love it or leave it - so I did and I love living in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Living among gun enthusiasts here in the US I can tell you that gun control is a complex issue, although I don't see a reason for civilians having assault weapons. Any gun can be turned against it's owner (or others). From my view I see smoking and over-eating needing a greater degree of resolution though. Too bad capitalism is a contributing giant obstacle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Frankly, I don't like Obama's politics - I find him to be a rabble-rousing demagogue who stirs up the resentment and envy of the poor and the spendthrift against the successful and the savers. He symbolizes the degenerate nature of politics in mass democracy.

    And yet...I fully support him in taking on the NRA. Guns shouldn't be outlawed altogether but should be tightly controlled.

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    Comment number 13.

    @4 Autonomalistic
    Norway does not have the world's toughest gun control laws, Japan and the UK do.

    The problem is a combination of factors. Availability of deadly, fast firing guns is one, people off their rocker is another, and there are probably more. No one factor, no one solution, but gun control is part of the solution. Arming everyone will only put up the death count, and anyway, who pays?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    do you think that anyone is going to let anyone have anything important that they want if they can keep it for themselves?

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    LaPierre started his rant with : "The National Rifle Association's 4 million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters join the nation in horror, outrage, grief and earnest prayer for the families of Newtown, Connecticut"

    Some unfortunate irony in that since it was a mother's gun that killed the children last week.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Cowards will always choose locations where their chances of success in carrying out their act is maximized. In other words, gun-free zones where no one is armed. It is common sense. Massacres don't occur in police stations or at gun shows because killers don't want resistance or the possibility of failure in their mission. They want things easy. This is prevented by an armed presence.

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    Comment number 7.

    Why are mass shootings so much more common in the US than the UK? Three guesses...
    - Because the US is bigger than the UK? Nope. Even considering population, there is still a huge disparity.
    - Because Brits are nicer than Americans? I don't think so.
    - Because it's hard to get your hands on a gun in the UK? Hmm... could be...

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    we can be nostalgia for the way things used to be no drugs, no school attacks but that is only sticking you head in sand. more attack will happen since gun control does not prevent crazy people intent on violence from killing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    The problem is the combination of a person with a violent temperament with a weapon capable of inflicting a great deal of damage. If the NRA object to this and think that arming everybody is the answer, perhaps they would care to pay for that? After all they can afford $24million, they must have money. Why should the taxpayers pay for the cost incurred by their luxury toys?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Firearm legislation cannot prevent tragedies unleashed by those bent to harm us. An example is Anders Breivik, who obtained guns in Norway (world's toughest guns laws) and used them to kill 69 people. Assault weapons were already banned in CT, and since concealed carry laws have been relaxed gun crime has lessened in the US. Love or hate him, LaPierre is correct. It's people that are the problem.

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    Comment number 3.

    It's embarrassing the amount of power the NRA has over congress.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    America's main problem lies with people like Wayne LaPierre, people with guns. They kill lots of people. The US would be better off without people like Wayne LaPierre, people with guns. He complains of violent films, films where guns are used to kill people. There was no hint of irony in his face when he said it. It's people with guns are the problem, stupid!


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