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. JR

    How does the NRA have any credibility whatsoever? They certainly mangle the facts terribly with this one. And the implicit assumption is that any regulation on gun ownership is somehow evil. Well, every other freedom we enjoy in America has limits...even freedom of speech.

    January 17, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  2. sayer

    Obama is doing something about the problem. Is the NRA? It's easy to criticize but hard to actually do something.

    January 17, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  3. Michael

    His children ARE more important then our children, because if his children are kidnapped, it can grind our nation to a halt. If my children were kidnapped- would it influence politics? NO. Nobody likes the NRA!

    January 17, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  4. Courtney

    They are cowards , heartless cowards may I add .So they can defend what they want the NRA is not in charge Obama is.

    January 17, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  5. Jerry

    While I don't support (never will) using children as props, the fact is that both parties have used such ads. However, the Democratic machinery seems to be the most guilty of this; with our King/Dictator leading the pack.

    Of course HE or the lame stream media will never admit it. Oh well... What else is new?!

    January 17, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  6. Richard R.

    Bogus statistics regarding asking people off the street to identify what type of guns they'd ban, what is a high capacity clip, what is an "assault rifle": 80% of the public doesn't know the differences.
    And where's the media on Chicago violence, 500 murders per year, Obama's hometown and his community organizer territory pride. It's more than a disgrace, it's a concerted coverup. Are there journalists out there anymore?

    January 17, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  7. Name fred doerrie

    The NRA finds themselves in unfamiliar territory, with a nationwide push for improved gun regulation.. As an organization that promotes firearm ownership, the recent shooting @ Sandy Hook Elementary has left the NRA in defensive mode.. Watching interviews w gun right advocates on many news outlets, they tend to avoid the question noting the 2nd amendment.. One news anchor asked "so do you believe the 2nd amendment permits you to own a TANK??" The lady represnting the NRA said "yes"!! In my opinon the NRA has lost all crdibility!!

    January 17, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  8. Basher2209

    So when the NRA mentions children in an add the White House says it's "repugnant and cowardly" and children sholdn't be "pawns in a political fight." I guess they didn't feel they were doing the same thing by reading letters from children yesterday and having them stand by the president. I guess it's because we all know it is important to consider children's ideas when debating Constitutional Law....

    January 17, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  9. Jesse

    Everyones kids should have equal protection. The fact is properly trained police works wonders. The simple fact is take away guns, they build bombs. If holmes didn't have an AR-15 he still had homemade grenades and still had explosive to destroy a city block. What is wrong is the simple fact his therapist dropped the ball. Newtown Police who saw Adam Lanza at a shooting range dropped the ball. Immediately they had the authority to intervene. You don't need to ban a specific weapon to prevent crime. What everyone wants in law enforcement is prosecutors who want to prosecute crime. Prosecutors who only prosecute if they get a confession normally because the guy cops a plea to a much lesser charge. That is the worst part of law encorcement is lazy AUSA's and lazy ADA's.

    January 17, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  10. plain&simple

    These NRA people know full well what they are doing and it is WRONG. Intimidation is a small minded cowardly tactic and used because their position is indefensible on merit!!! Americans are not stupid and do not like low class gutter politics. Our President speaks to us intelligently and with respect to our understanding and knowledge of issues and situations. Get a clue congress and NRA,until you do your perception as anything other than ignorant and uncaring will only get worse.

    January 17, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  11. Steve, New York City

    Another ultra-rich Washington lobbyist group that habitually crosses the line. Rich lobbyists are nothing but "criminal cartels" that force pork into spending bills, and ruin Washington by buying votes.
    The Supreme Court's obtuse 2010 ruling on election spending has made things even worse.

    January 17, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  12. Dave

    I don't know which is most annoying ... the fact that the NRA is involving the Obama girls in this, the absurd disingenuousness of their denial that they did any such thing, or the sheer stupidity of the argument in the commercial itself. The fact that the best way to protect high-profile targets differs from the best way to protect the general population is NO reflection on the relative importance of anybody.

    January 17, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  13. Joi Gibson

    I still say the ad is repugnant; and I still say the NRA is tone deaf. They say no to anything trying to address this issue. A person simply does not need high capacity magazines/guns/whatever for protecting their homes, hunting, sporting, etc. As has been mentioned, if you want to play with those types of weapons, go to a gun range. I just feel those types of weapons have no place in society – this is not the wild, wild west. Speaker Boehner says there is no urgency to being the President's proposals to the floor. First, he says the President should lead, however, since Speaker Boehner does not agree with this particular issue which the President is leading on, he sees no urgency in bringing it to the floor. It is not about him, it is about the American people. I swear he is the worst Speaker and the House of Republicans are boobs (thereby giving boobs a bad name).

    January 17, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  14. Ferret out the BS

    Too bad the First Admendment guarantees that he can say this and put a target on the President's children because some people may take this as a challenge. These guys are way over the top by bringing in the President's family, they need to be stopped. Gun owners may be a majority but people who don't want reasonable legislation are in the minority.

    January 17, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  15. LocalVokal

    "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," Correct me if Im wrong, but everybody that pays to have protection for their own children, more than likely, NEED protection for their own children for things other than mass shootings. I'm talking kidnapping, paparrazi, etc. Who is he talking about?

    January 17, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  16. Publius Novus

    More dog whistles from the NRA. A bunch of cowards hiding behind their guns.

    January 17, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  17. Name Sandra

    That ad is silly! The NRA are fully aware of WHY the President's children have protection.....it's the same reason why other countries around the World give protection to their leaders children....... The reason is not rocket science!!!

    January 17, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  18. BCW

    NRA is the biggest bully in the Capitol Hill and GOPs loves to intimidate opponents with firearms. Remember Sarah Palin's map with cross-hairs?! That's how sick this wacky new radicals act. They call themselves conservative?? Even Ronald Reagan pro-gun control when he was the President. GOP Radicals – Guns do not give you power; Jesus never used a weapon and had great power.

    January 17, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  19. In Denver

    "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.


    So this is just the new normal now? We drop our kids off at school and then ... what? Never see them again? I don't think that's fine at all.

    January 17, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  20. Ronnie Jackson

    The only difference is the Presidents kids has more to worry about then kids in a public school setting.

    January 17, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  21. maf

    Keep digging Keene, you and the organization you represent, are mired in a smear that doesn't look good on you or your 4.3 million members!
    Maybe this will be the straw that breaks the hold the NRA has on so many members of Congress. . .
    One can only hope!

    January 17, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  22. Canuck

    Does the NRA have plans for gun and ammunition tax to pay for all this security they want? Didn't think so.

    January 17, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  23. George

    So, the president's kids get gun protection. What about our kids? Arent the secret service paid from our taxes ? He's using our tax money to protect his kids, but not ours ??

    January 17, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  24. Al

    I saw the ad, what is the problem it's factual Obama girls are pampered and protected with adults carrying weapons, why should the tax payers children not be protected too? Does anyone believe for one minute that the Obama girls are superior to the children of real working parents? Perhaps in the eyes of their daddy the one that thinks he's KING but not in the eyes of real people. Those people guarding the girls are nothing but a burden to tax payers, they produce nothing and cost the tax payers plenty.

    January 17, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  25. chuckd

    it is getting harder to intimidate people. you tried last election, it backfired. if you try to take it further, only god knows what could happen.

    January 17, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
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