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.
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Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
“The head of the NRA blamed everyone in sight – except his own organization – for gun violence in America, and showed himself to be completely out of touch by ignoring the proliferation of weapons of war on our streets. “The NRA is now calling for stronger security at our schools. They should endorse my legislation, which would fund security upgrades for schools and trained law enforcement personnel to protect our kids. “In the day ahead, I will work for a comprehensive strategy, which includes sensible gun laws, a focus on mental health and school safety.”
“The NRA’s Washington leadership has long been out of step with its members, and never has that been so apparent as this morning. Their press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country. Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe. Leadership is about taking responsibility, especially in times of crisis. Today the NRA’s lobbyists blamed everyone but themselves for the crisis of gun violence. While they promote armed guards, they continue to oppose the most basic and common sense steps we can take to save lives - not only in schools, but in our movie theaters, malls, and streets. Enough. As a country, we must rise above special interest politics. Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns. That’s why 74 percent of NRA members support common sense restrictions like criminal background checks for anyone buying a gun. It is time for Americans who care about the Second Amendment and reasonable gun restrictions to join together to work with the President and Congress to stop the gun violence in this country. Demand a plan.”
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.)
“Everyone agrees our schools, movie theaters shopping malls, streets and communities need to be safer. But we need a comprehensive approach that goes beyond just arming more people with more guns to make this happen. “Closing holes in our mental health system, addressing our culture’s glorification of violence, improving background checks for everyone who buys firearms, and reinstating the ban on assault weapons and assault magazines all must be part of a comprehensive approach to reduce and prevent gun violence.”
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
“It is beyond belief that following the Newtown tragedy, the National Rifle Association’s leaders want to fill our communities with guns and arm more Americans. The NRA points the finger of blame everywhere and anywhere it can, but they cannot escape the devastating effects of their reckless comments and irresponsible lobbying tactics. The NRA leadership is wildly out of touch with its own members, responsible gun owners, and the American public who want to close dangerous loopholes and enact common-sense gun safety reform. It is clear that their real priority is to help gun manufacturers sell more guns—not to protect our children or Americans’ rights. The extreme rhetoric of Wayne LaPierre and the NRA is disturbing and dangerous, and will only exacerbate America’s deadly culture of gun violence."
Sen.-elect Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.)
“The NRA’s press conference was appalling. Even more firearms are not the solution to reducing gun violence. “Preventing gun-related massacres, like what occurred at Virginia Tech and in Newtown, Connecticut, requires a comprehensive approach that includes tackling mental health issues, looking at ways to better secure our schools, and changing our culture of violence. But perhaps more importantly, it means tackling the gun epidemic in this country with sensible gun safety reforms. The NRA attempted to completely shirk their responsibility to that key piece of this puzzle. It was galling, and an overreach, and it may well backfire on them as the public reviews Mr. LaPierre’s statements.”
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)
“Anyone who thought the NRA was going to come out today and make a commonsense statement about meaningful reform and safety was kidding themselves. Today’s NRA press conference only reiterates why we need to say ‘enough is enough.’ We will examine our culture of violence, we will certainly discuss mental illness, but we can no longer ignore the need for reasonable gun control reform.”
Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
"Gabby and I are extremely disappointed by the NRA's defiant and delayed response to the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The NRA could have chosen to be a voice for the vast majority of its own members who want common sense, reasonable safeguards on deadly firearms, but instead it chose to defend extreme pro-gun positions that aren't even popular among the law abiding gun owners it represents. Today, the NRA chose narrow partisan concerns over the safety of our families and communities. The time for this kind of extreme rhetoric is over. We must have a real conversation about preventing gun violence, because when it comes to protecting our children, families, and neighbors, we can't wait any longer."
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)
“The NRA’s response to the Newtown massacre is both ludicrous and insulting, and they are fundamentally out of step with the American people on the issue of gun violence. Instead of making a sincere and good faith concession toward gun control reform – like enhanced, universal background checks, which the vast majority of its members support – the NRA has offered a fantasy suggestion for congressional action on a massive federal spending increase, backed by a disingenuous offer of NRA-funded training premised on that fantasy being actualized. “What happened to their promise for a ‘meaningful contribution?’ To argue that kids are not safe because too few ‘good guys’ have guns is to ignore every fact on the ground. The armed personnel at Columbine and Fort Hood, tragically, could not prevent the shooters from committing mass murder. “And, beyond the cost of providing armed guards for each school – $5.4 billion a year just for salaries, in some estimates – this remedy does nothing to provide checks on ‘bad guys’ gaining access to guns or to remove the most dangerous and unnecessary types of firearms from circulation. What we need is NOT more guns but sensible gun control legislation, including a ban on assault weapons and a comprehensive buyback program, a robust and centralized system of background checks, and a reassessment of our mental health services.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R)
From <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20121221_ap_njgovarmedguardswontmakeschoolssafer.html">AP</a>: <blockquote>New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says posting armed guards outside classrooms won't make classrooms safer or encourage learning. The Republican governor's comments made Friday in Newark seem to run counter to a National Rifle Association proposal that armed police officers be stationed in every American school to stop the next killer "waiting in the wings."</blockquote> Read the rest <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20121221_ap_njgovarmedguardswontmakeschoolssafer.html">here</a>.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D)
“NRA officials today blamed everyone but themselves for the conditions that permitted the monstrous attack on the children and teachers in Sandy Hook Elementary School. They said that gun laws don’t work and that pursuing legislation is a waste of time. They proposed instead the equivalent of an arms race. “Through the years their solution to the nation’s public safety problems has always been more guns. With this morning’s statement, it’s clear that nothing has changed at the NRA. “Through the years our focus at the Conference of Mayors has always been the enactment of legislation, which reduces gun violence in this nation and, following Newtown, we feel more strongly about this than ever before. “On Monday, three days after the tragedy, we called on the President and Congress to: · Enact legislation to ban assault weapons and other high-capacity magazines being prepared by Senator Dianne Feinstein and others; · Strengthen the national background check system and eliminate loopholes in it; and · Strengthen the penalties for straw purchases of guns. “The discussion of steps that need to be taken to make schools safer places for children and teachers is now underway. If it’s clear that the NRA wants to be part of a serious discussion, we will listen to what they propose in the weeks ahead. “The NRA says that it is not the problem, it is the solution—and that’s the problem.”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)
“The NRA just doesn’t get it. More guns in more schools will mean more gun violence. Period, end of discussion. “If guns kept Americans safe, then America would surely be the safest country in the whole world. Because, by a huge margin, America has the most guns. We have about 90 guns for every 100 people making us the most heavily armed country per capita in the world. Yet, the U.S. has more gun-related killings than any other developed country in the world “It is clear that Congress needs to act and act quickly. We need to ban assault weapons. We need to ban massacre magazines and we need close all of the background check loopholes that allow guns to get in the hands of the wrong people. “After the unfathomable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school last week, our country is united in a demand for change. If our country doesn’t change course and take these common sense steps, then we cannot expect the outcomes to be any different.”