The last time NRA head Wayne LaPierre went on the Sunday morning political talk shows, he asked people who disagreed with him to call him “crazy.” This time, he was being called “ridiculous,” and by Fox’s Chris Wallace.
On “Fox News Sunday” today, Wallace pressed LaPierre on if he regretted running an NRA ad that made an issue out of the Secret Service protection provided to President Obama’s two daughters. The ad, which suggested the president was hypocritical for protecting his kids while opposing the NRA’s plan to put armed guards in every school, was widely viewed as reprehensible, and even the NRA’s top lobbyist acknowledged it was probably “ill-advised.”
But LaPierre stood by the ad’s message today, telling Wallace that every child is in danger in schools. Wallace noted that Obama’s children “face a threat that most children do not face.” “Tell that to the people in Newtown," LaPierre responded.
"You really think that the president's children are the same kind of target as every other school child in America? I think that's ridiculous and you know it, sir,” Wallace fired back.
LaPierre stood firm, saying that every child should get the same protection as the Obama children. “You mean Secret Service?” Wallace asked. “No,” LaPierre said, explaining they should get police officers or certified armed guards.
Meanwhile, LaPierre’s NRA was none too impressed with the photo the White House released yesterday of Obama skeet shooting. “One picture does not erase a lifetime of supporting every gun ban and every gun-control scheme imaginable," Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the organization told the AP.
Later in the interview, LaPierre put forward the kind of lite conspiracy theorizing that has been his trademark as NRA chief. The gun lobbyist insisted that Obama is interested in banning not only assault weapons, but that he secretly wants to take away people's shotguns and handguns as well. "During the campaign, when he said to people, 'I will not take away your rifle, shotgun, handgun' ... now he's trying to take away all three."
LaPierre’s evidence? The proposed assault weapon ban and a hunch. "I think what they'll do is they'll turn this universal check on the law-abiding into a universal registry of law-abiding people," he explained.
On the assault weapon ban, he added, "If you limit the American public's access to semi-automatic technology, you limit their ability to survive.”
Appearing later in the show, Capt. Mike Kelly, the husband of former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, said the NRA should support mandatory universal background checks if for no other reason than because “74 percent of NRA members think it is a very reasonable thing to do.” "So I hope Mr. LaPierre can think about what would his members want," Kelly said.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman had harsher words for the NRA on ABC’s “This Week,” calling it an “insane organization” that thinks “we’re living in a ‘Mad Max’ movie.”
Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, was more conciliatory to an organization that has backed him in the past, but said he wanted to get something done on guns. "I've been supported by the NRA on occasion. I know Wayne LaPierre, he's always been extremely pleasant to me. We have a good relationship. So I am not here to demean the organization," Reid said on “This Week.” "Just because they resist, it doesn't mean we can't do things,” he added.
In non-gun news, Reid said he was optimistic about comprehensive immigration reform, which he said is “certainly going to pass the Senate.” The House could be a bigger problem, though, Reid said. “It would be a bad day for our country and a bad day for the Republican Party if they continue to stand in the way of this,” he added.
Reid also drew a strong line on one facet of the immigration debate that threatens to complicate matters -- the question of what to do with binational same-sex couples and their children. “If we have gay folks in this country who have children, or they come from some other place, they should be protected just like any other child,” Reid said.
Finally, in case there was any doubt left in the debate over torture and “Zero Dark Thirty,” departing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who previously headed the CIA, said torture was not critical to finding bin Laden. “The fact is, we put together most of that intelligence without having to resort to that ... I think we could have gotten bin Laden without that," he said of the so-called enhanced interrogation tactics.