The NRA, the most powerful gun lobby in the United States, ruled out any support Sunday for greater regulation of firearms or ammunition magazines after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre.
Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said planned legislation to outlaw military-style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines was “phony” and would not work.
He repeated the NRA’s call to place an armed guard in every school and argued that prosecuting criminals and fixing the mental health system, rather than gun control, were the solutions to America’s mass shooting epidemic.
On December 14, a disturbed local man, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, killed his mother in their Newtown, Connecticut home before embarking on a horrific spree at a local elementary school.
He burst into Sandy Hook elementary and shot dead 20 six- and seven-year old children and six adults with a military-style assault rifle before taking his own life with a handgun as police closed in.
The bloodshed reopened a national debate on gun laws.
President Barack Obama said he would support a new bill to ban assault rifles and put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of a panel looking at a wide range of other measures, from school security to mental health.
Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein has pledged to table a bill on January 3 that would ban at least 100 military-style semi-automatic assault weapons, and would curb the transfer, importation and the possession of such arms.
“I think that is a phony piece of legislation, and I do not believe it will pass for this reason,” LaPierre told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It is all built on lies that have been found out.”
“We don’t think it works and we’re not going to support it,” he said.
The NRA points to the fact that the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, when 12 kids and a teacher were gunned down by two senior students, occurred despite similar legislation being in force at the time.
“I don’t think it will (work). I keep saying it, and you just won’t accept it: it’s not going to work, it hasn’t worked. Dianne Feinstein had her (previous) ban and Columbine occurred,” LaPierre said.
America has suffered an epidemic of gun violence over the last three decades including 62 mass shooting incidents since 1982. The vast majority of weapons used have been semi-automatic weapons obtained legally by the killers.
There were an estimated 310 million non-military firearms in the United States in 2009, roughly one per citizen, and people in America are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than someone in another developed country.
The NRA has been in the crosshairs since the Sandy Hook massacre and took the unusual step on Friday of holding a press conference and speaking out on the tragedy.
But rather than come out in support of limited gun control measures, the lobby — which retains a powerful influence over politicians, especially from rural districts where gun owners are the norm — demanded that armed police be deployed to every school in the country.
LaPierre reaffirmed that position on Sunday and launched a fierce defense of gun owners’ rights, which he portrayed as being imperiled by rich folk in cities, elite politicians and a hysterical media.
“The average guy in the country values his freedom, doesn’t believe the fact that he can own a gun is part of the problem and doesn’t like the media and all these high-profile politicians blaming him,” he said.