January 16th, 2013
06:30 PM ET
10 years ago

NRA president defends controversial ad

(CNN) - The president of the National Rifle Association is standing by the group's new controversial ad that has drawn fire for referencing the president's children, a rare move in a political attack.

David Keene told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday that the ad is "not about them specifically," arguing the television commercial was more than just about President Barack Obama's children.

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Attacking the president as an "elitist hypocrite," the commercial asks why he opposes the idea of placing armed guards in every school–a proposal pushed by the NRA–yet his own children attend a school with similar security.

"Are the president's kids more important than yours?" a narrator says in the 30-second ad. "Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools, when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school."

The White House blasted the commercial, which runs on the Sportsman Channel, as "repugnant and cowardly" and charged the NRA of using the president's two daughters as "pawns in a political fight."

Keene, the group's president, said the ad was not referring to the girls' Secret Service protection but the "elitists' kids" who attend schools with private security.

"What we're talking about is folks who have protection for their own children…and then pooh-pooh the idea that the average American's children shouldn't have the same sort of protection," he said on "The Situation Room."

When Blitzer argued that the NRA could have made the same point without mentioning the president's children, Keene said, "That's fair, you can make the point in a lot of different ways."

Earlier Wednesday the president announced his proposals to curb gun violence, an agenda that included a call to reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban, a ten-round limit for ammunition magazines, increasing access to mental health, and requiring a criminal background check on every gun sale.

Of the proposals, Keene said he approved of policies that seek to prevent mentally-ill individuals from obtaining guns.

"The kinds of people who do this, particularly the mentally imbalanced…shouldn't have any magazine," Keene said. "They shouldn't have any guns. Let's find them to the extent that we can, let's make sure they don't get their hands on firearms and then let's provide security because someone's going to fall through the cracks."

When pressed, he also said he agrees that the president should appoint a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a position that's been open for six years.

With Obama's calls for Congress to act, a fierce debate on Capitol Hill is expected to take place as lawmakers battle over gun control, one of the most emotional and partisan issues. And a new CNN/Time Magazine/ORC International Poll indicates that a majority of Americans support stricter gun control laws in the wake of last month's shooting rampage at an elementary school in Connecticut.

According to the survey, 56% support a ban on semi-automatic guns, though that's down from 62% in a CNN poll taken in the days after the shooting at Sandy Hook. The same is true for a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips - 62% in December, down to 58% now.

Keene, however, tried to downplay the polls, saying they "aren't going to mean a lot" in a fight with Congress and the president.

"I think that as this debate goes on–we've had this debate before–as people begin to look at, as the public engages, I think we're going to be fine," he said.

Filed under: NRA • The Situation Room
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. Lisa P.

    Keene, however, tried to downplay the polls, saying they "aren't going to mean a lot" in a fight with Congress and the president.

    Yeah, not like attacking the President's kids. That's what *really* means something to this sicko and his paranoid, mentally ill and (frankly) not very bright supporters. Because that's what a policy discussion is all about, right? Personal attacks, the lower and scummier the better.

    "Repugnant" really is too too kind a word for the NRA in its present incarnation. "Despicable" might be a better fit.

    January 16, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  2. aRky

    The head of the NRA and his minions are cowards. Plain and simple. Especially after Newton.

    January 16, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    Not surprised the NRA and its supporters attaced President Obama by targeting his children. They are bullies without character, conscience, civility, or courage.

    January 16, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. Tony

    NRA's argument can be used in so many ways. For example, are the president and people in Congress more important than you? So why are the president and people in Congress getting government-paid health insurance, and you are not?

    January 16, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  5. Derak

    Full disclosure: I may be a little biased because when I moved into a house on the edge of the bad side of town with my new wife, I felt strongly that I should have a gun in the house. While I was working late at the school, I got a call from her. A man had tried to break in the front door of the house, checking the knob to see if it was unlocked and saw her. He CONTINUED to try to get in, shoving and yanking at the old, cheap door, and it had one of those sectioned windows on it; so he could break out one of the squares of glass and open it if he continued trying to get in.
    Now what do you think he planned to do to her so that he could get away with his burglary without the police having a description?
    She ran into the bedroom, got the gun, and came out into the front room with it. The man saw the gun, turned tail, and ran away. So, would you gun control nuts prefer that my wife had been beaten, possibly raped and murdered by this punk that tried to get in even though he knew she was home because he saw her? I know "cal the cops," right? Well, we saw the door open one night when we were out late and a light was on; so, we thought someone might still be inside. We called the cops, saying that someone broke in and might still be there, and it took them 20 minutes to show up. The funny part? We had just passed a cop at a speed trap not 5 minutes down the road. We could go to the corner and see him still parked there.
    The lesson, cops show up to take the incident report after it already happened. No wonder these elitest congressman live in private subdivisions with private security.

    January 16, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  6. rs

    The NRA President, and the NRA for that matter are beneath contempt. They have forfeited their part in any adult discussion about guns and gun laws because of their idiocy.

    January 16, 2013 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  7. Rememberwhatbushdid

    The President, according to CBS News this evening included in his proposals "encouraging schools to hire police officers". The NRA is over the top again, twisting, rationalizing, lying. The ad also draws attention to, and purposely tries to draw anger toward AND TARGET the President's daughters, thereby recklessly bringing potential danger to them. TOTALLY UNCONSCIONABLE jut like the NRA ALWAYS HAS BEEN. It's bad enough they have created and continue to escalate a gun-toting culture even after massacre after massacre after massacre, but now these bigots have picked-on the President's children...and from a false premise to begin with! Hopefully all Americans will FINALLY see these creeps and sleazes who run the NRA for who they are.

    January 16, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  8. Larry L

    The N.R.A. is a lobby promoting unrestricted gun sales and making big bucks. It's the same sort of people who promote cigarette sales to young people, fight against efforts to curb childhood obesity, and lobby against environmental protection that prevents cancers like childhood leukemia. For them it's a game to energize ignorant people to support an evil cause. I guess Hell never completely fills up...

    January 16, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  9. CBP

    If this ad is not about the President's children why mention them at all. Is this man trying to change the intent of the ad now that it has been roundly criticized. The NRA has become an organization with its own very narrow agenda and its refusal to look at the way guns are being used in this country. It would seem the NRA would be working to provide the safest possible manner for their members and others. They know perfectly well that no one is trying to change the second amendment yet they use the scare tactic to keep folks from changing any gun laws. It is time for new leadership at the NRA. Business as usual is not the way to go. When something as horrific as Newtown occurs than it should be time to make changes in gun policy without taking guns away from owners.

    January 16, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  10. Pander Bear

    Love how the NRA absolutely abhors any systematic tracking of guns calling it fascism, but is AOK with systematic tracking of people who may or may not be mentally ill. If they do begin a tracking list of the mentally ill, I suggest that the top two names be David Keene and Wayne LaPierre.

    January 16, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  11. Liz the First

    There is no defending this unconscionable ad! the more these creeps scream about the 2nd Amendment right to own weapons of mass destruction, the more the American people see them as 'people' who place their guns above our precious children. what has this country become? fortunately, polls show there are more sane people than NRA members. but if we don't speak up as loudly as the gun nuts, they will win and our kids will lose.

    January 16, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  12. marty

    The greater the controversy, the greater the gun sales and the greater the profits for the sellers and the NRA. The NRA plants their dirty little seeds of suspicion and contempt and foolish, gullible excuses for adults swallow it, hook, line and sinker!

    January 16, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  13. Mike

    One of the 23 orders signed by Obama calls for more funds to allow schools to hire more community resource officers to protect kids. Check the facts before you speak, NRA.

    January 16, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  14. Amy

    The NRA's arguments are so ill conceived. The reason the president needs protection for his children is that by being president, he is a target, as is his family, for militants and crazy people all over the world. To say that the average person needs armed guards 24×7 lacks common sense. Most people are not saying to take away all guns, only to take away the ones that make no sense for anyone outside of the military to own.

    January 16, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  15. dave

    This is really lazy and terrible reporting. Part of the POTUS proposals IS putting police in schools. Not just police, but surveillance equipment as well. It's there, in writing, in black and white. This delusional and non-factual conversation is not news, it's sensationalist and yellow journalism that serves only to confuse and distort. The fact CNN is putting this out there as "news" is sickening.

    January 16, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  16. Debbie

    Deplorable NRA. Any Presidents children have special and unique protection and yes secret service is armed. Pretty shamfull and low class at best. Are the Presidentts children more important than my children? Not to me personally but that does not mean they are not important att all. That does not mean that tthe Presidential family should not have secret service. I've decided that the NRA is not a lobby but blackmailing our representatives in Congress. They are criminals and terrorists themselves. Responsible gun laws is not taking away my rights or my fellow citizens. But the NRA wants America to be a society without order but chaos. They are pro terror. Shameful NRA and I'm watching which of my Representatives in Congress are pledging their allegiance to the NRA vs my children.

    January 16, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  17. Logic N LA

    Speaking of being a hypocrite! He and the NRA directly called out the Obama girls- it was not a generic ad about private schools and security. He is trying to put the milk back in the bottel after he spilled it. It does not fly-anymore than the NRA arguments for certian gun ownership or its opposition of controls.

    January 16, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  18. n, tx

    Shame on you NRA to bring in president kids in this add, it is a shameful and I wish the president does more to ban the guns.

    January 16, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  19. Martha in CF

    I think the FBI, CIA and the Secret Service should all be investigating this dude and also his sidekick at the NRA. This is sick stuff!!!!!!!!!

    January 16, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  20. 4 trillion

    Vindictive, mean spirited, ....a leopard showing it's stripes...

    January 16, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  21. Evergreen

    The next mass shooting will raise the poll numbers again.

    January 16, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  22. Mike

    Let's watch him dance.... I really didn't mean that... I meant this even though I said that....

    January 16, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  23. Sharon

    I am constantly amazed that these so-called adults use the Obamas' young daughters as a target. I well remember during G W Bush's administration, the tales that would come out about the Secret Service proving driver's services when the girls 'partied' too long. The President's minor children have always had protection. It has nothing to do with the President being an 'elitist'. When I purchased a handgun, my brother who was with me, told me I needed to be able to shoot to kill, if that possibility occurred. While I want our children to be protected, I do not think it is fair to put it on non trained people If teachers are armed, as some have suggested, are they to be compensated for the time they have to spend at a shooting range. I spend one Saturday morning a month, practicing and making sure my aim is good. Trained security is good but is costly and even then,things can happen. Let's pull the ad and get something going to make certain background checks are standardized throughout the country, that states have realistic concealed weapons policies and that we can somehow get guns off the streets and out of the black market. Hard but I do not think it is impossible.

    January 16, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  24. sally

    The NRAs ad is shameful and disgusting. I think it will hurt their cause more than help it. Keep those types of ads coming and see if you do not loose backers.

    January 16, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  25. Dan

    I can not believe that any true sportsman could belong to this group, their leadership seems to be insane. I think that the tea party must have taken over the NRA as well as congress.

    January 16, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
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