Kerry Kennedy knows more about the impact of gun violence than many Americans. When she was just a child, she lost her uncle, President John Kennedy, and her father, Senator Robert Kennedy, to bullets.
"It's almost impossible to describe the pain of losing your father to a senseless murder or the anger and fear of knowing that murder might have been avoided," she said on Thursday's PolticsNation.
Those murders, along with those of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, prompted Congress to pass new gun reforms in 1968. But Kennedy points to the NRA, and Wayne LaPierre specifically, as the primary force behind the slow and steady efforts to chip away at those laws. "This is what's insanity," Kennedy said, referring to the 1.3 million American lives that have been lost to gun violence since her father's death, and the nearly 2,000 lost just since December's Newtown school shooting.
In a Thursday afternoon press conference, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre spoke out against the background check that even three-quarters of NRA members support, contending that it's pointless to pursue because criminals won't abide by it. Kennedy calls those comments, and LaPierre's recent opinion piece, "fearmongering."
"He has spent his entire career trying to stop these sensible gun controls," she said, pointing out that Smith & Wesson was on the verge of agreeing to put child safety mechanisms on triggers until LaPierre "desecrated them" for it. "It's just Wayne LaPierre and his corrupt cronies who are against [these laws] and we have got to fight them," she said.
She also joined the growing chorus of Americans urging lawmakers not to overestimate the NRA's power. "Real courage is not standing up to the NRA. Real courage is standing in a classroom, as a kid, as a guy comes through with a gun and starts shooting all your classmates."
Her words to Congress? "We're not asking that much of you, we're asking you to save American lives."