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.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker']

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. borisjimbo

    Does he also support that app they put out what was in essence a violent video game involving shooting, the kind of video game Wayne-o claimed was the real cause of the gun violence?

    January 17, 2013 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  2. Brian Dodge

    Arm the teachers!

    With tasers, and train them how to use them. If they shoot a nutjob with a gun first, it WILL stop him. If they don't shoot first, it doesn't matter how heavily armed they or a guard are.

    January 17, 2013 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  3. Jeb

    A sure sign of a bully is when they attack your kids.

    The NRA will stop at nothing to protect gun industry profits.

    January 17, 2013 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  4. DixonIV

    Keene is a coward. He can't admit to the real purpose of that stupid commercial. His intent was to demonize our President and his children. He has zero credibility and is only out to increase gun sales. And before anyone say it, I am in full support of our right to own guns.

    January 17, 2013 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  5. ThinkAgain

    You know, for a bunch of people who are so afraid of "government tyranny," why is the NRA and its supporters calling for armed guards in every public school – all of which are, by definition, an extension of the government?

    Where's the guarantee that the NRA isn't just trying to put in place their own army so they can take over our schools and communities?

    Just thought I'd throw out that bone for the conspiracy nuts to chew on ... I wouldn't put it past the NRA, though ...

    January 17, 2013 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  6. kemikal

    Honestly, I don't even know what to say.....these fools are crazy!! I think I'll let my NRA membership expire; I'm sure of it. I'm all for being secure and the right to bare arms; they just don't know when to quit. I'm sure it would be different had it been HIS children. There is no need for anyone outside of Law Enforcement to have access to automatic or military grade weapons; to include high capacity magazines. If you need more than 10-13 rounds maybe YOU shouldn't own a weapon anyway.

    January 17, 2013 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  7. Deceit4200

    Brilliant plan let’s spend over 100 billion dollars a year to put armed guards in every school in the country. I hope most people are smart enough to see through this distraction and not take it seriously.

    January 17, 2013 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  8. ed

    But its ok for the pres to surround himself with little children when he is pushing to take peace loving peoples rights away.... Come on people this is sick. We all need to wake up and get ready for the globlist banksters take over.

    January 17, 2013 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  9. Bob

    This man places a much higher value on the sale of guns than on human lives. Nothing else he says or does can make him any lower than he already is. I don't understand what makes people care more about owning weapons designed and sold to kill people than the people they are used to kill, but I imagine they must get some sort of perverse satisfaction every time they read or hear about another shooting. There are many values and belief systems that I disagree with but that I can still easily understand. But actively lobbying Congress to assure that madmen have access to military rifles and pistols designed to kill as many people as possible is not among them.

    January 17, 2013 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  10. sara

    funny thing is the NRA used to be vary sensible now they are just gop puppets or the other way around they are alex jones hacks .they could not care lesss how many get killed by idiots and morons wiith guns they can kill our kids the NRA dont give a stuff about it .so long as they can have their toy guns and act tough .

    January 17, 2013 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  11. angry

    Keene, I guess you will say and do anything for a pay check. Very sad! I don't think your family is very proud of you tonight!

    January 17, 2013 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  12. Name gopfailure

    Such a shame no one challenges any of the NRA clowns to answer a very simple question on live interviews, Do they personally profit from the weapons manufacturers for increased sales of weapons?

    Then ask if NRA if they really support the laws already in place why do they bribe congress to deny funds to police & regulators?

    January 17, 2013 04:01 am at 4:01 am |
  13. Daniel

    We don't blame cars for drunk drivers...

    January 17, 2013 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  14. mccainin4

    The NRA forgot itself that the First Family is off limits for a reason: any reference to their daily lives is changing the debate and making it personal. The NRA will be long gone once the debate is over, off performing other services, leaving its mess behind. And, in the end, they appear hopelessly incompetent because one of the President's proposals is to provide the very same security referred to in the NRA's ad.

    January 17, 2013 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
  15. craig

    I had no respect for the NRA before and have even less now. Is there no slim so deep they won't jump in? I suspect they'd openly defend anyone who used a gun to murder a member of the President's family, simply because a gun is...well, a gun. Traditionally the members of the first family have been off limits in almost every situation. It's called basic Respect, something the NRA has always been short on, but this is unacceptable. Given the history behind the 2nd amendment...a history that they completely ignore...using the President's daughters in a commercial is especially offensive. These folks may claim to be patriotic Americans, but then so did the slave owners just before they left the union.

    January 17, 2013 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  16. Murphy

    It seems to me the point the NRA is making is that if you have the means to hire armed guards to protect your kids that is a good thing. Since most Americans don't have those means then parents must protect them themselves. Hence the need for any gun of a parents choosing. But to have the gun ban crowd dictate that you can't protect your kids is wrong.

    January 17, 2013 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  17. fiftyfive55

    If our all knowing government hadn't cut the funding for mental illnesses years ago,we wouldn't be having these types of headlines.There was even reports a few years back about how many mentally challenged individuals joined the military just to get help and have a place to live,this is probably the real reason the military is experiencing so many suicides.

    January 17, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  18. Marie MD

    Of course, because a commercial mentionint the President and his children is NOT about the President's children.
    The rethugs and the right wing zealots have NOT learned a thing since the election last year. The American public is smarter than they think we are.
    We are not falling for the lies and the in your face I said this but I didn't mean it anymore.
    Boycott companies that help mutans like limberger and faux news thrive on the dumb of some people.

    January 17, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  19. tomnikoly

    It amazes me that David Keene and Wayne LaPierre even have the courage to appear in public let alone utter phrases.

    January 17, 2013 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  20. markfromdover

    I would like to see some investigative reporting on this clown just to see how much $$ he has received from gun manufacturers , free vacations etc.

    January 17, 2013 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  21. SecrtSqurl

    It's funny that Republicans sink to this moral level once again expecting the Democrats to just take it. Haven't they learned from the election not to try and play dirty during the election? Like the election, Democrats need to fight back in the same way the Republicans do. Once it happens, things will change. Giffords Americans for Responsible Solutions has that opportunity. Time to take off the gloves.

    January 17, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  22. Say What?

    I think the WH was wrong to call it "repugnant and cowardly" and using his kids as pawns. The WH used kids in general, so they open the door. The WH should answer the question, Why are the rich and other kids more important than the citizens of our country? If we have to provide education, then they should provide a safe place to get that education, for all to receive!

    January 17, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  23. demogoat

    The occupy the woods crowd stuck their finger in it with this add.

    January 17, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  24. Siestasis

    The NRA had an opportunity to make America safer for our children and grandchildren and instead decided to play to the lowest common denominator and the far right in order to up their membership. Maybe they should consider what is more important all the billions of dollars they pull in or the safety of our children. They chose money as did the gun manufacturers. Now you know where you rate with the NRA.

    January 17, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    When is someone going to conduct a poll about whether or not we should arm teachers, as per the NRA? Who is the NRA to complain about *private* schools that may use armed guards? Isn't that what the parents are paying for?

    Who is going to take responsibility when an amateur guard in a school commits the unthinkable accident? I know. No one. Why? Because the guard was scared and was simply standing his or hier ground.

    January 17, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6