Schumer Criticizes NRA Chief; Gun Debate Intensifies

8:55 PM, Dec 23, 2012   |    comments
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Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY); Photo Courtesy AP

The head of the NRA spent Sunday defending the group's opposition to certain types of gun control in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy.

Appearing on NBC's "Meet The Press" Sunday, NRA Executive Wayne LaPierre was involved in a spirited exchange with moderator David Gregory.

GREGORY: Let's stipulate that you're right. Let's say armed guards might work. Let's widen the argument out a little bit. So, here is a magazine for ammunition that carries 30 bullets (holding up ammunition clip). Now, isn't it possible that if we got rid of these, if we replaced them and said you could only have a magazine that carries 5 bullets or 10 bullets, isn't it just possible that we could reduce the carnage in a situation like Newtown?

LaPIERRE: I don't believe that's going to make one difference. There are so many different ways to evade that, even if you had that. You had that for 10 years when Diane Feinstein passed that ban in 1994, it was on the books, Columbine occurred right in the middle of it, it didn't make any difference.

The NRA says it will strongly oppose another ban on what some define as "assault weapons." The group's position is drawing a heated response from both sides of the debate. New York Senator Charles Schumer said the NRA's argument against gun control measures is so extreme, it may actually help the members of Congress trying to pass a measure.

 

"Trying to prevent shootings in schools without talking about guns is like trying to prevent lung cancer without talking about cigarettes," Schumer said. "And (LaPierre) is so doctrinaire and so adamant, I believe gun owners turn against him as well. Look, he says 'the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.' What about trying to stop the bad guy from getting the gun in the first place?"

Joseph Tartaro, the President of of Buffalo's Second Amendment Foundation, opposes any ban of "assault weapons" -- a term which Congress would define.

REPORTER: Do people need high-powered rifles like the one used in this massacre?

TARTARO: Let me put it this way. They're not as high-powered as generally become the term nowadays. They're not as powerful as guns we had before.

REPORTER: Do we need them?
TARTARO: There are people who have legitimate reasons for having, not just having a semi-automatic of a desirable caliber, but a number of rounds available.

Among those who need the weapons, according to Tartaro, are farmers and ranchers, whose cattle is at risk of attack by wild dogs and other animals, as well as long-haul truckers.

TARTARO: Many of them are carrying valuable or sensitive material.
REPORTER: Why would they need a rifle?
TARTARO: (shrugs)
REPORTER: Maybe a handgun?
TARTARO: A handgun might be useful, but if faced by more than one incident, why do we give soldiers rifles?
REPORTER: Well, because they're fighting in war. This is not a war zone.
TARTARO: If you're encounter(ing) and incident, where you are faced with more than one assailant, and you are by yourself, would you rely on a little handgun? Or would you rely on a rifle that could put somebody down?
REPORTER: Well, do you think we should just have shoot outs everywhere?
TARTARO: I don't think we should have shoot outs, but I think if everyone understands that, if they take up a gun against anyone else in society for unjust reasons, somebody else is going to put them down.

While it is unclear if and when Congress will act on any gun control measures, President Obama has ordered the vice president to head a committee that will recommend measures to him. The president is expected to push for those measures in his State of the Union address next month.

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