The National Rifle Association was quiet immediately following last Monday’s attack by a gunman at the Washington Navy Yard that killed 12 people, but the head of the powerful lobby group is now speaking out.
CEO Wayne LaPierre appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday and offered his take on what went wrong that day, what needs to change and what doesn’t when it comes to gun control in the U.S.
The interview aired hours before U.S. President Barack Obama spoke at a memorial service in Washington to honour the victims of the mass shooting. Obama said he fears these kinds of shootings are “the new normal” and that Americans “cannot accept this.”
Here are some highlights from LaPierre’s interview.
Blames navy yard's poor security:
LaPierre said the military base, just a short distance away from Capitol Hill and the White House, was "completely unprotected" and "there weren't enough good guys with guns."
“The NRA is calling today for layers of security around our military bases, and the other thing we need to take a look at is all these brave men and women that are trained in firearms that signed up to serve in the military, they are largely disarmed on our military bases. We need to look at letting the men and women that know firearms and are trained in them do what they do best which is protect and survive.”
Outrage over guns misplaced:
“All the outrage this week in the first two days, the elite media, the politicians, tried to stir this towards firearms. The outrage ought to be placed on an unprotected naval base, on a criminal justice system that in Chicago doesn’t even enforce the federal gun laws when we could dramatically cut violence, on a mental-health system that is completely broken, on a check system that is a complete joke in terms of stopping the bad guys, and a criminal justice system in this country. Just this past week because of budget collapse they’re releasing 23,000 people back to the streets in Los Angeles, a lot of them violent and a lot of them sex offenders. That’s where the outrage of the American public is.”
'Broken' mental-health system needs fixing:
LaPierre was asked if someone exhibiting signs of mental illness should be able to buy a gun, and he responded: “They need to be committed is what they need to be, and if they’re committed they’re not at the naval yard.” LaPierre said he has been talking about the background check system for 20 years and no one’s listening. He complained that mental-health records are not included in the system. “If the mental-health people say you’re dangerous, you need to be in the system … let’s fix this broken system right now which nobody wants to fix.”
Leave hunters and farmers alone:
LaPierre said private sales of shotguns between hunters and farmers should be left out of background checks because they don’t need to be “under the thumb of the federal government.”
“I’ll tell you what the NRA is for: Interdict, incarcerate violent criminals, get them off the street. Interdict people that are having mental problems, get them into treatment, enforce the federal gun laws ... fix the mental-health system and let’s get our fiscal house in order so that we can stop releasing the bad guys back to the street.”