WASHINGTON -- The National Rifle Association's top two leaders on Thursday blasted Connecticut's new gun control law aimed at preventing violence like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the pro-gun lobbying group, called Connecticut's law, passed early Thursday, part of a "decade-long agenda against firearms" during an interview on Fox News. NRA president David Keene, meanwhile, told the conservative publication Newsmax that gun control laws like those passed in Connecticut and Colorado were "the real threats." New York and Maryland also have toughened gun laws since the school slaughter in December.
The NRA opposes any restrictions on high-capacity magazines or military-style assault rifles, both now banned by the new Connecticut law. The law also provides funding for school safety and has stricter eligibility requirements for ammunition purchases. New gun control laws like the one in Connecticut and another recently passed in Colorado represent rare public losses for the powerful gun lobby, which helped to organize opposition to both bills, as well as large protests in Denver and Hartford.
“I think the problem with what Connecticut did, is the criminals, the drug dealers, the people that are going to do horror and terror, they aren’t going to cooperate," LaPierre told Fox News host Megyn Kelly. "All you’re doing is making the law books thicker for the law-abiding people."
LaPierre said there was "no evidence that anything would have changed" about the shooting in Newtown, Conn., if stronger gun control laws had been in place. When Kelly confronted LaPierre with accounts by Sandy Hook survivors who said that 11 children escaped gunman Adam Lanza while he reloaded, LaPierre dismissed the accounts. "Megyn, people that know guns know you can change magazine clips in a second."
LaPierre also said he had no regrets about the NRA's decision to place anti-gun control robocalls to Newtown residents in recent weeks, a move that sparked outrage. Nor did LaPierre admit regretting his defiant first press conference after the Sandy Hook shooting, widely panned as a public relations disaster. "Our tone is what keeps America safe," he said "We're saying it louder than anybody."
Keene told Newsmax that state gun control laws present "the real threats" to gun rights. He also criticized Connecticut's legislative process.
“They invoked an emergency clause which allows the governor, without going through any committee of the legislature, without having any hearings, to put a package before the two houses of the legislature and demand a vote," Keene said. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) fast-tracked the bills, but Keene failed to mention there were numerous hearings on the legislation, some lasting more than 12 hours.
Gun control advocate Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, praised the Connecticut law, which he said "will save lives, plain and simple." On Monday, President Barack Obama will travel to Hartford to continue his push for nationwide gun control legislation.
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