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Schumer: Meet the NRA in the middle, we'll get more done

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has long been a strong advocate of gun control.
Sen. Chuck Schumer on Morning Joe.
Sen. Chuck Schumer on Morning Joe.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has long been a strong advocate of gun control. He wrote the Brady Bill, which requires background checks for firearm purchases, in the '90s. The National Rifle Association isn't a fan.

But it wasn’t always that way.

“When I was in summer camp, I took NRA sharp shooter lessons–I have a merit badge,” he said on Thursday’s Morning Joe.

“It used to be like the AAA, it was helpful with safety and insurance.”

The NRA’s dramatic change since Schumer’s childhood days to the fierce lobby group it is today–widely credited with scuttling the assault weapons bans expiration in 2004 and keeping gun control laws from passing for decades.

“Twenty years ago everyone [supported gun control] because crime was rampant. The broad middle was for gun control, so that was enough to counter the NRA,” Schumer said. “Now, when I go to street fairs, even on Long Island, and I’ll see a thousand people, two or three people will say ‘I don’t like you, you wrote the Brady Bill,’ no one will say ‘I support gun control,’” the senator said.

As crime lessened, the NRA strengthened.

“There was nobody but the NRA out there and they became more powerful and more militant. But with all these shootings, the broad middle may rise up again.”

To effectively legislate gun control, Schumer said legislators need to reaffirm gun-enthusiast's right to bear arms and meet the NRA halfway.

“We should come back and say ‘we’re not going to take away your guns if you’re a law abiding citizen, the Second Amendment is as important as the First, but you have to admit that no Amendment is absolute,” he said. “I think there can be a middle ground here.”

That middle ground must also be a multi-pronged solution, he added, particularly one that tackles mental health so as not to alienate gun enthusiasts.