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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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    the NRA is correct armed security is only thing that will stop an armed
    attacker. since all recent attacks happened in gun free zones. which make those at location easy targets for an attacker.

  • 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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Really MM, you expected to hear the NRA offer concialitory words to gun control advocates? Long experience has shown them that any compromises quickly lead to additional demands for more restrictions from the anti gun lobby which sees any wilingness on the part of the NRA to be reasonable as a sign of weakness to be exploited.

  • 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.

  • 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.


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