For Immediate Release
A Response to the NRA Press Conference
WASHINGTON - During a tense and sometimes surreal press conference in Washington today, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre took no responsibility for the tragedy in Newtown and other recent mass shootings committed by heavily (and often legally) armed gunmen. Instead, LaPierre blamed such violence on the media, the “political class,” mentally ill Americans, the music industry, the film industry, video games, the Obama administration, gun violence prevention activists, and others.
This is familiar rhetoric from an organization with direct ties to the gun industry and a financial stake in promoting the indiscriminate sale of firearms. Gun industry executives like Pete Brownell and Ronnie Barrett sit directly on the NRA Board of Directors and the organization receives millions of dollars in direct corporate contributions each year from firearms manufacturers through its “Ring of Freedom” program.
It is therefore obvious why LaPierre has little interest in de-escalating the level of gun violence we are seeing. Proposals to limit access to military-style firearms would negatively affect the NRA’s bottom line, and that is why he scoffed at those “wasting precious time debating legislation” in our Congress and elsewhere. Rather, LaPierre fell back on the tired rhetoric of “more guns are the answer,” which has been categorically rejected by the American people.
Additionally, LaPierre's statement calling for a “national mental health database” is completely insensitive and vilifies millions of Americans, the vast majority of who will be never be violent. The focus instead should be on the narrow group of people who are a danger to themselves and others, to make sure they are included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Mental health and public health professionals—not the National Rifle Association—are the ones who should be taking the lead in debating the important reforms that are required in this area.
The solution to protecting our children is not to place them in the middle of shootouts between “good guys” and “bad guys.” The goal of this policy discussion should be to prevent the first shot from ever being fired. That can be addressed by enacting comprehensive reforms to keep military-style firearms off our streets and ensure that every gun sale involves a thorough background check.
We are a society awash in military-style firepower, which can be purchased with little or no screening in states across America. It is now apparent that we will never receive positive contributions on how to solve this problem from the organization whose lobbying has created it. The matter is now in the hands of the millions of Americans across this country who want meaningful reform of our nation’s gun laws.