NRA’s LaPierre doubles down on the ‘crazy’ in interview

Wayne LaPierre, Exec. VP and CEO of the National Rifle Association
Wayne LaPierre, Exec. VP and CEO of the National Rifle Association
Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

After his peculiar rant on Friday in response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary last week, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre reaffirmed the lobby group’s stance on gun laws and continued to diffuse the blame of gun violence during an appearance Sunday on Meet the Press.

“If it’s crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children… then call me crazy,” LaPierre defended himself Sunday. “I think the American people think it’s crazy not to do it.”

On Friday, LaPierre gave the NRA’s first spoken response to the Sandy Hook shooting. He urged for the federal government to pick up the tab in placing armed guards in all schools, suggesting that had the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary been armed, she could have stopped the gunman from his killing spree that took her life and the lives of 20 children and six other adults. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said during the weekday press conference.

LaPierre faced ridicule and backlash almost immediately—protesters even managed to interrupt his speech on two separate occasions Friday. Meet the Press host David Gregory on Sunday presented the best-of reel and top tabloid take-downs of LaPierre, from the New York Post’s headline blaring “Gun Nut!”, to Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy, whose district includes Newtown, calling LaPierre’s remarks “revolting” and “tone-deaf.”

In his Friday speech, LaPierre blamed the Sandy Hook shooting on just about everything—video games, Hollywood, the media, the courts—except guns. On Meet the Press, he doubled down on his claims, portraying guns as the victim of the debate. “I know there’s a media machine in this country that wants to blame guns every time something happens,” LaPierre said.

At points in the interview, LaPierre was seething at the mouth, claiming that “there’s not a gun show loophole” that put guns more easily in the hands of unregistered Americans. He went on to call Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s renewed assault weapons ban a “phony piece of legislation,” and indicated an unwillingness to work with the president’s newly-minted task force created to combat gun violence.

“A gun is a tool,” he said. “The problem is the criminal.”

Like much of the public, the Melissa Harris-Perry panel on Sunday responded to LaPierre’s aggressive stance with shock.

“We should start calling the NRA the ‘AK-47%’,” guest Lizz Winstead said, channeling the infamous Mitt Romney remarks. ”The NRA membership has to stand up to him.”

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, Americans’ views on gun control have shifted amid the increase of prominent mass shootings in the nation. The poll out last week found that 54% of Americans favored stricter gun control laws, with almost a majority supporting the ban of high-capacity ammunition clips. And new research has found that even some NRA members approved of tighter gun safety regulations.

“Wayne LaPierre doesn’t represent gun owners, he represents gun manufacturers,” Bob Herbert, a fellow at Demos, said Sunday. ”Wayne’s goal is to sell as many guns to as many people as possible.”

LaPierre also stirred uproar this week when he advocated for a national database for the government to keep tabs on Americans with mental illnesses—such a database his organization has aggressively lobbied against in documenting registered gun owners. “We have no national database of these lunatics,” he said Sunday of the mentally ill.

“To say that you want to demonize those people instead of getting these horrible machines off of the street should tell you everything about that organization,” Winstead told the MHP panel. “It’s one of the most horrible things I have heard maybe in my lifetime in any kind of political setting.”

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NRA's LaPierre doubles down on the 'crazy' in interview