The battle lines have been drawn on the fierce gun debate following last month’s deadly shooting in Newtown Conn.
President Obama is pushing for gun control legislation this year, assigning Vice President Joe Biden to oversee a task force exploring what can be done to prevent future tragedies. Many lawmakers have demanded meaningful, immediate action. And former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords—who miraculously survived an assassination attempt two years ago –has launched a new group to take on the powerful gun lobby.
On the other side of the spectrum are conservatives who have made headlines in recent weeks for their hard-line, often downright nutty stances on guns.
Here’s a roster of who’s who in the far-right gun debate:
Wayne LaPierre—Executive vice president of the National Rifle Association
The face of the powerful gun-rights group insisted gun control is not the solution to stem tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A week after the shooting, LaPierre held a press conference in which he argued “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” He called for a plan that includes putting “armed police officers” in every single school across America and insisted gun owners in the country were being “demonized.”
Alex Jones—Talk radio host and gun advocate
Video of CNN’s Piers Morgan interviewing Jones went viral this week after the talk radio host went into a rambling diatribe against gun control legislation. Jones had started a petition to have Morgan kicked out of the U.S. for a number of reasons, including his stance on calling for a ban on semi-automatic rifles. Highlights of the interview: Jones challenging Morgan to a boxing match, exclaiming “1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms,” and arguing that a weapons ban is not the answer, rather the “number one reason for American deaths is suicide. I want to get people off pills.”
Larry Pratt—Executive Director of Gun Owners of America
Pratt is head of a powerful firearms lobbying group. During a recent appearance on Hardball, Pratt argued that the teachers in Newtown should have been armed. “Nothing is 100%,” but if “teachers, janitors and principals were able to defend themselves with guns” the children at Sandy Hook “might have had a chance. It would serve you better than sitting like fish in a barrel.”
Louie Gohmert (and Co.)—Republican congressman
The Texas GOPer, much like Pratt, is also arguing for more guns. He recently told Fox News that he wished Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hoschsprung had been armed. “I wish to God she had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” he said. Gohmert has put forth a bill that would allow lawmakers to arm themselves on Capitol Hill. Gohmert isn’t the only lawmaker calling for more guns in schools, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, state reps. Liz Pike of Washington and Paul Battles of Georgia, and Phillip Lowe of South Carolina.
The grassroots movement has been sending out e-mail blasts to its base following the Obama Administration’s call for gun control legislation. The group said “anti-gun coalitions, Communist Party, Neo-Nazis, Washington liberals, politically diseased politicians and the anti-freedom freaks with their feverish lust to remove our fundamental rights will stop at NOTHING.” Another says “Obama has yet to be sworn in and already he is preparing his minions for gun grabbing.”