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. mondude

    I hope the GOP and the NRA keep up with this kind of tactic then the American people can see them for the kind of associations they are. They will in next twenty years or so just fade away. I say maintain this approach.

    January 16, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  2. luke,az

    The NRA is not relevant. 900 people have died since Sandy Hook. It's time to ban assault weapons and perform background checks on all gun purchases. Keep the spotlight on legislators who won't do the right thing for the safety of our communities.

    January 16, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  3. Sharon Kesel

    How is this ad any different than the White House putting the children and the devastated parents from Newtown on display when he signed his garbage this morning?

    January 16, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  4. Mike

    Excuse me Mr. President; but isn't "Children" the topic of discussion here? The safety of "children"? So why are YOUR children not to be a part of this discussion? Why do YOUR children become exempt from this topic? Thank you for proving the NRA's point of your "Elitist Hypocritical" status. And you are such in more ways than one. You have secret service agents with fully automatic weapons with large capacity magazines to protect you. Isn't the response time of the local police department good enough for you like it is for the rest of us? Why is this good enough for the common person, but not for you? Out of all the mass shootings, how many of them throughout history took place where YOUR secret service agents were posted? How many of these mass killings took place in ANY location that was KNOWN to have armed security? None that I'm aware of. Yet the President still bawks at the idea that he is a hypocrite... Sick.

    January 16, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  5. midwestmatt

    Repugnant doesn't begin to describe this "commercial."

    I am a believer in the 2nd Amendment and also believe the idea of armed police/guards in every school is a ludicrous joke perpetrated on us by this imbecile.

    January 16, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The idea of weapons to be brought into a place of learning is just plain silly. There is no need for this to be a place that has a chance of violence because of the weapons meant to be protect. We need to have kids know that they are not being locked in a fortress because that is distracting to say the least.

    January 16, 2013 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  7. enuff

    I think it is disgusting that the NRA is putting President Obama's children in the center of this controversy. They are children regardless of who thheir parents are. You have a beef, put your big boy pants on and BEHAVE like an ADULT, not a bunch of bullies trying to go after the ones you think are achillies heels to the President.

    January 16, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  8. Not Mentioned

    When will there be another legitimate gun association that attracts members that hold reasonable and not extreme positions such as the NRA. It has become an embarrassment to be associated with them.

    January 16, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  9. Big Bird

    The ad makes an accurate point.

    January 16, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  10. mwh

    There is a difference between the First Family and the rest of the families with in the United States. The conservative would be the first to attack anyone that degraded a Republican President but it is OK to go after a Democratic First Family. I find what the NRA's add suggests is APPALLING. Yes they are different, they are the First Family. No they are not more important. All of our children and Citizens should be protected. The NRA is out of line!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Secret Service should shut this ad down as an attack on the First Family.

    January 16, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  11. verycreative

    To the NRA;

    Have you no shame, sir?

    January 16, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  12. Jonas

    Well of course the NRA defends the ad. They hold their guns more sacred than children's lives.

    January 16, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  13. David Witcraft

    I guess it's easier to criticize the question, than answer it?

    January 16, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  14. common sense

    The NRA is using an false argument to imply the President's children don't need the special protection that they receive because they are the President's children. It is a fact that many school districts employ security personnel or police and it is up to the community to pay for that. So what is the point? The NRA is flaming the fire by using rhetoric that is disturbing to say the least by saying the President's kids are special and everyone else's are not. In fact the President has authorized the funds to be made available for districts to employ security protection as one of his proposals to address this crisis. The NRA needs to scale back or it is liable to lose all credibility from a public weary of listening to the lies and false arguments the NRA uses to promote their own self serving agenda.

    January 16, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  15. Disgusted

    Nice spin effort, Mr. Keene. NOT. Your feeble attempt to dial back from your dog whistling call to racists who hate our President fails. Nevertheless, I will address your attempt at nuance. You say that you're making a distinction between Secret Service protection and protection provided by the school that the Obama girls attend. But you forget one thing: they attend a private school. If the school chooses to use its endowment, tuition money, or whatever to provide additional security for its students, it is a cost that will be borne by the families that send their children there. Not taxpayers. Placing armed guards at public schools will require public expenditures. Such expenditures are paid by tax dollars. Unless the NRA commits to pay for such guards at every public school from its own funds, it has no business advocating such a ridiculous public policy. Apparently, a majority of the nation wants fewer guns around, not more. Majority rule is a core principle of the nation. Try to abide.

    January 16, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  16. Boon

    "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."

    Um, shall we now discuss health care for all?

    January 16, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  17. Thomas

    The president of the National Rifle Association David Keene is a "elitist hypocrite,"

    He reminds me of the guy from the tobacco lobby who said cigarets are good for you !

    January 16, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  18. MaryM

    The NRA is becoming more and more extreme and more irrelevant. Everyone knows the NRA is paid millions by the gun manufacturers

    January 16, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  19. Mark Pratz

    The NRA would certainly recognize hypocrisy, using an amendment intended for national defense by militia to pedal guns, hate and fear. Tine to take them out of the political picture. Support reasonable gun control now.
    I'm a gun owning Texan (surprise!) and I have no fears about the proposal. The NRA scares me badly!

    January 16, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  20. Thinker

    Same NRA crap.If they really want to do something about the mentally ill, they should start with their Board of directors. Ted Nugent, Grover Norquist, and on and on. They should also check out Wane Lapirre, their executive director. Hes a real wack job.
    These laws that have been presented are reasonable, and long over due.

    January 16, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  21. Doc Ock

    The NRA is old, out of touch and downright delusional. I wonder if they are willing to foot the bill on their genius idea of placing millions of armed guards in the millions of schools across America? This stupid idea would cost hundereds of millions of dollars a year. And if Obama said "Okay, let's do it". They'd be the first idiots standing up crying about the tax increases and the "big government" needed to oversee their own plan. I seriously cannot believe that this group holds any type of political power in 2013.

    January 16, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    watched CNN tonight your people seem to thank the NRA add to be inappropriate. One of your guest called the NRA corwards. NRA was making a direct comparison to what king Obama is trying to do. there are many legal gun owners who do not support any attempt to infringe on the 2nd amendment

    January 17, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  23. Lolo

    It's very telling that he says polls, showing the majority of Americans support an assault weapons ban, don't mean much. I thought a democracy was supposedly the will of the people, not lobbyists. Obviously, judging by his comment, lobbyists have more sway than the American people.

    January 17, 2013 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  24. mountainlady

    This accusation is as ridiculous as most of the other claims of the NRA. The President's immediate family has been protected by the Secret Service since 1917 because he is a world figure and far far more vulnerable to attack than average citizens. Guns in school has absolutely nothing to do with the President's daughters. I didn't think the NRA could sink much lower but here they go.

    January 17, 2013 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  25. Cnn

    What's wrong with bringing up the presidents children? It's a point that the American public should know about. It seems unfair that hs kids and other rich kids get to be protected while my kids are left vulnerable. If guards don't make sense in schools why then why is their school protected? I guess my kids aren't worth it. Thank you to the NRA for making a great point.

    January 17, 2013 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
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