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. Floyd

    So, question for the people who want to place armed security guards in schools...

    who is going to pay for it? state and local governments are cutting actual teachers to try and balance budgets, the federal government has a debt of $16T and politicians on both sides can't get their act together enough to pass a budget, actually lower deficits or do anything else useful fiscally speaking. and generally the same people who want more guns in schools are more often than not the same ones who bang on about the debt level and current tax rates being too high.

    just for a thought experiment, there are 300,000,000 people in the US, about 100,000,000 of which are school age (estimates I know, just roll with it), and my highschool had about 2,000 kids which is on the large end of a school, but that will work for the sake of the experiment. so... 100,000,000 kids with 2,000 kids per school gives us 50,000 schools. we probably need what... 2 armed guards per school, at an average wage of $35k a year plus benefits... so $50k each officer each year for $100k additionally per school times 50,000 schools brings it to a total of $5,000,000,000... yes,$5Billion per year for security at a minimum.

    To those that argue to arm teachers and administrators, actually THINK about what you are asking... you are asking a group of under paid, over worked people who are supposed to be educating our children to act as local sheriff in addition to their normal job. think about your teachers growing up... how many of them would you actually trust with a gun in a high stress situation...

    January 17, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  2. djthbp

    Does anyone else get it that, when the so-called "elite" send their children to exclusive private schools which may have increased security, they are paying exhorbitant amounts of money to do so in the form of tuition? So, in fact, they are PAYING for the additional security out of their OWN pockets. If the general public wants to have comparable security at every educational facility for their own children, they must be willing to pay for it out of THEIR own pockets... i.e., increased school, city, county or state taxes... or individual surcharges invoiced directly to the familites for each child to pay for armed guards. Are they willing to do that?

    January 17, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  3. Mnela

    Does every school bus will have two armed man too? Each school bag packs going to be check? How about patting each student and teachers? are we going to have security gards in the cafeteria? How about the recreation areas? Library? Will there be night gards inspecting under each suspicious place? Has it being considered reinforced concret wall around the buldings? Could the scale model airplanes posses a threat? Could our children be targetted by foreign terrorists? Might someone poison the food in the school cafeterias, ddoes biochemical terrorism seems out fetch? the list could go on and on, as many souls we have. Home schooling is a safe choice to consider.

    January 17, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  4. CarolinaGirl

    If it quack's like a duck and walks like a duck it's a duck! Keene, give it up!

    January 17, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  5. Chester

    The NRA has gone too far this time around. Why in the world would you bring the president of the United Sates children in to this in first place? Is this best that you can do? There is no way that I want to see armed guards in every school what kind of country is this. You need to be working to help correct the problem. The President kids are not more important than are but there is a bigger picture here that they are not looking at. Man if I could just slap this man I would. If you want to get into a political fight then so be it but keep the president’s tow daughter out of it. I own guns myself but I would never be part of the NRA. Man what a sick group of people they are. They are only looking at money side of things not the loss of lives that have happen over the past year.

    January 17, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  6. Tim Morris

    The MRA elitist could care less about the president or his kids. Thats why they attact and antagonize and intimidate,seathing in racist rage. Like mongrel dogs that know no civility. They only seek confrontation. These lunitics only care about stock portfolio's and munition sales and a revitalization of the Conservative Confederacy. They want to attack liberals and democrats in an all out mindless destructive battle of uncotionable blood letting. They will always try to destroy the union. They want their slaves and their own malitia control. They will lose. They are a minority and hate it. America is a melting pot. They numbers are dwindleing.

    January 17, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  7. The poignant question

    "Are the president's kids more important than yours?" Well, are they?

    January 17, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  8. Mnela

    i guess the national school security program could be founded from gun taxes.

    January 17, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  9. Patrick

    Does the NRA want the Federal Government to pay for armed Federal employees to be in every school in the country? Who would pay for that? Won't that mean bigger government and less freedom because of Federal law enforcement inside our local schools?

    January 17, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  10. Murphy

    There is no doubt that these kids need protection. It is good that "means" are provided for that. However, for those who do not have the "means" to hire armed guards for their kids must find another way to to protect them. One of two ways to accomplish this. One way is parents must protect their kids themselves. Hence the need for the weapon of their choice. Or the gun ban crowd can wait twenty minutes for the cops to arrive. HMMMMMMMMM by the time they do show up you already be mopping up the mess.

    January 17, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

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

    The mentally ill, huh? Then let's start with those folks who joined the NRA after the Sandy Hook massacre, because if anything suggests mentally ill, screaming for more assault weapon rights (not less) after an elementary school massacre should open all our eyes as to what side exactly NRA membership wants to be on during a national tragedy. The NRA is using the blood of 26 innocents to fund raise for more assault weapon advocacy, and apparently this fundraising effort is working within the very limited confines of NRA leadership.

    January 17, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. Name

    NRA endorses Alex Jones for president

    January 17, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  13. linda

    This is so dumb......all Presidents children have had secret service protecttion from as long as I can remember and I am 65........this has nothing to do with the gun issues or this President being hypocritical.....NRA is running scared because they know we have had our fill of their bullying and want full back ground checks on anyone buying a gun....especialy at gun shows......and these private gun salers.....NO MORE.......

    January 17, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  14. Reasonable Man

    The NRA recognizes no limits when it comes to protecting the interests of weapon manufacturers and sellers. Dead children should not get in the way of corporate sponsorship.

    January 17, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  15. Blake

    The white house says the NRA is using the Presidents kids as pawns in a political fight, isnt that the same thing the President is doing with the poor kids at Sandy Hook?

    January 17, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  16. Mr. Patton

    If the NRA is looking for the "elitist hypocrites" , they only need to reach for a mirror.

    January 17, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  17. Michael Q

    If the number of cowards are in the majority, The President's efforts will fail, and America will take another step towards obscurity and lose more respect than it already has in world opinion. The cry for "freedom" based on taking up more arms, is really the loss of one's confidence in everything man has fought for over the years. America keeps building fences to isolate its wrongs from what it believes are its rights!

    January 17, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |

    "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."

    Then why did the ad refer to the President's children? Does the Keene think we are all as dumb as the gun toting, GOP extremists and conspiracy theorists this ad was directed at? Get a clue.

    January 17, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  19. dreamer96

    Are the Presidents kids more important then yours....

    Hmm Seems like this could back fire on the NRA, and Tea Party, since they seem to think the Top 1% are all better then the 99%.....In Arizona anyone with a Arizona Driver License can buy Demolition Explosives and they do not even check to see if the Driver License is real.....The NRA runs Arizona with their gun smugglers and straw gun buyers and demolition explosives all making it very easy for the bad guys to get guns and explosives....Ironic...

    January 17, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. Nadyne Morgan

    Creating an ad, depiciting the President as an elitist hypocrite because pre-established policies at his children's school is cowardly. To say that schools should not have to have arm guards is a feeling so many of us hold deep in our hearts. Schools used to be seen as a safe place., and it's heart-breaking that they aren't anymore. I believe in strister gun laws, and I support the ban on all assualt weapons being sold. Why? If you are not actively defending the country, there is no reason for an average citizen to have that kind of fire power readily available.

    January 17, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  21. Gary Eugene Good

    Maybe I'm over reaching but I believe any member of the GOP or NRA that fight to stop President Barack Obama's executive actions on gun violence should be charged with Aiding and Abetting the next time anyone is killed or injured by a person with a unregistered assault weapon with a magazine that exceeds ten rounds

    January 17, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  22. Jean

    The NRA has become the organization of redicals who don't even make sense with their own statements. They foam at the mouth about loosing their "rights" even though the new gun control suggestions are not radical. Perfect sense. They say there are too many laws already ..which we know have more holes than a Swiss cheese... and if they could, would want to roll THOSE back. They want to "protect themselves" from some paraniod idea that the government will come and get them. Now THAT"S sick! They say they DO approve having mentally ill people not be able to get guns.. Without having universal background checks how we are to know who is on the mentally ill list? Who puts people on thiis "list" and who decides who is sick enough? Perhaps the doctors wil have to place a tattoo on these sick people's foreheads so we all know who is sick and not able to buy an assault rifle.. You know, an "S" for schzophrenia, a "P" for paranioia, an R" ...well, you get the idea. The first candidate for his tattoo should be that Keene guy...a nice big "P".

    January 17, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. rvoter

    Obama said if gun control save one live it's worth it but what if a gun saves a live is that not worth it?

    January 17, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. Newmalthus

    White House press secretary Jay Carney offered a statement: "Most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight.” Using other people’s children as pawns in a political fight, however, is completely acceptable. — ( See yesterdays AP Photo/Charles Dharapak of Obama signing Gun Executive Orders surrounded by carefully selected children).

    And by the way, speaking of the NRA, Item number 3 of the Obama gun plan calls for an additions
    1,000 "School Resource Officers"

    For those of you who don't know, those are COPS. See CNN article today titled: Schools of Thought: My View: More school resource officers, more safe school communities; See also Justice Department program COPS in Schools.

    January 17, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. HarvTy

    It was o.k. that Obama used kids as props, though, right? This is the most hypocritcal, disingenuous administration. The media is as much to blame as our lying, good for-nothing politicians. Citizens needs to work very hard to be informed with the truth and have the courge to speak out.

    January 17, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
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