WASHINGTON -- House Democratic leaders slammed the National Rifle Association and its CEO Wayne LaPierre on Friday for making remarks that “just don’t make sense” in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“I do not believe those remarks represent anywhere near a significant portion of America,” said House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). “I don’t believe frankly that they represent necessarily the majority of views of responsible members of the National Rifle Association.”
Hoyer also characterized as "unfortunate" LaPierre’s highly-anticipated statement made earlier in the day, in which LaPierre called for armed guards in schools throughout the country to prevent such an incident from happening again. It was the first time the NRA had publicly commented on last Friday’s tragic shooting, which left 26 dead, including 20 children.
"The recommendation of an arms escalation in America is not the solution," Hoyer said.
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) said he found the NRA’s suggestion, which has been widely criticized among politicians, to be built on an “incredibly false notion.”
“The way the NRA is approaching this now is irrational,” Crowley said. “I think the American people understand that. The people were expecting a completely different response, and what we’re looking for from the NRA is a more collaborative approach -- what can you bring [and] what can you talk about today that can help us move the country forward? That was not done today by that press conference.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she had not seen the full NRA remarks, but criticized LaPierre for placing the blame for what transpired in Newtown on the mentally ill.
“For the NRA and others to sort of shield themselves by saying it’s the mentally ill or something and therefore we have to have more armed cops in the schools or more guns in the school -- it just doesn’t make sense,” Pelosi said. While mental health services should be addressed, she added, there must be a concerted effort to reduce violence -- which is not committed by the majority of people diagnosed with mental illness.
“You’ve got to get rid of these high-performance guns -- or magazines,” Pelosi said, pointing to legislation supported by over 130 House Democrats that would prohibit the manufacturing of high-capacity magazines. “Whatever you want to call it, they’re very, very dangerous," she said.
Pelosi then brought up a tweet from Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who represents Newtown and has been busy attending funerals in his district: “Walking out of another funeral and was handed the NRA transcript. The most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen.” Pelosi read the tweet twice before exiting the press conference.