April 2nd, 2013
06:45 PM ET
9 years ago

Hutchinson, NRA’s school safety point man, supports expanding background checks

(CNN) - Asa Hutchinson, the former Republican congressman who led the National Rifle Association’s school safety initiative, personally disagrees with its opposition to universal background checks, he told CNN on Tuesday.

"Yes. Absolutely. I'm open to expanding background checks," he said in response to a question on the "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

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Appointed by the powerful gun lobby to investigate school safety and how to improve it after the December shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, Hutchinson said broadening the scope of background checks could only occur under certain circumstances.

“If you can do it in a way that does not infringe upon an individual and make it hard for an individual to transfer to a friend or a neighbor or somebody," he said.

A spokesman for the NRA told CNN after the remarks that Hutchinson was "not speaking” for the NRA, which does not back universal background checks.

"He meant expanding it to include more people into the national instant check system," the spokesman said. "And by number of people, this is in reference to the quality of information within NICS."

Legislation moving through the Senate would mandate checks on all gun sales as well as other steps aimed at reducing gun violence. The measure is backed by President Barack Obama, who will continue calling for gun violence legislation on Wednesday when he speaks at the Denver Police Academy, the White House said. The venue is not far from a theatre where a dozen people were killed in a shooting last July.

A CNN/ORC poll from mid-March showed support for major gun restrictions or outlawing all guns easing somewhat. Nine in 10 Americans said in recent poll they support a background check on every gun sale.
The two sides of the background check debate generally disagree on how to expand the current background check system.

Some support increasing the number of sales for which a background check is required, while the NRA maintains the quality of the data in the system needs to be improved.

They support including more individuals with mental health issues in the system and say an ineffective system should not be applied to more sales.

Among proposals that Hutchinson’s task force presented on Tuesday was training and arming adults in schools.

"If you have the firearms in the presence of someone in the school, it will reduce the response time and save lives," he said.

Among the report's other recommendations are enhanced training programs for school resource officers and an online portal where school administrators could assess the security of their facility.

His panel, he said on CNN, was not tasked with examining the efficacy of background checks or gun control measures.

"Our mandate was to deal with the issue of inside the four walls of the classroom, the school property, for safety, because you can have your background checks, you can have all kinds of side issues or gun control," he said. But those "will not make a difference for the safety in the classroom because you've always got vulnerability there."

Hutchinson said he wasn’t sure whether background checks alone could protect students.

"Well, we don't know. Obviously we think it's important to make sure that firearms do not get in the hands of people who are criminals, convicted felons or adjudicated as mentally ill," he said.

His panel, he said, included people of "varied opinions on that issue."

- CNN's Jim Acosta and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report

Filed under: Gun control • Gun rights • NRA
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    This nation needs Gun-Ban Laws. Period.

    April 2, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  2. rs

    "If you have the firearms in the presence of someone in the school, it will reduce the response time and save lives," he said.

    Funny, every statistic regarding guns in the home reveal the exact opposite- there is a much greater chance of being shot or killed in a home where a gun is present. Care to provide some references for that Mr. Hutchinson?

    April 2, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  3. DakotaNM

    And who is proposed to pay for this new expense of placing trained armed guards in schools across America? The taxpayers of course. It's simple to come up with stupid ideas when your not considering the cost involved or looking at bankrolling it yourself.

    April 2, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  4. Hugh Jorgan

    Why in the world are the Americans letting an orginisation that has only one goal, increase gun sales, to determine the safety of it's citizens.

    What is next, the Muslim Brotherhood running National Security and the Mexican Cartel looking after the borders.

    Letting insurance companies and drug companies dominate health care is enough.

    April 2, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  5. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    Having the nra lobbyist group telling us what to do for gun policy is like letting the oil lobby determined the price you pay for gas, they are just another crooked lobby that looks out for the gun manufactures that they work for ,not you or your children . Wake up morons !!!!!

    April 2, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  6. hypatia

    Uh huh...what is the catch? Unlimited lifetime supplies of ammo

    April 2, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  7. MTATL67

    This lobbyist group and the Republican party have lost their mind. I would not send my kid to such a school and I'm a gun owner.

    April 2, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  8. Thomas

    The UN General Assembly adopts a historic treaty to control the trade in conventional arms, voting it through by a huge majority.

    The NRA should understand , civilized people don't want guns in there face ! The NRA is just as bad as some Russian weapons dealer .

    April 2, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  9. hugh jorgan


    April 2, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  10. fernace

    Not only is arming teachers a bad idea, but the NRA seems to not be able to focus on any other issue in this debate! Secure our schools!! But what about the mall, resturant, club, grocery store? What about the fact that so many incidents of gun violence include:lawful guns, a few beers & an escalating dispute! That's the stuff I read in the paper every day! None of the measures will stop gun violence, but we, as a nation really need to discuss what wil help to diminish it! Treating guns like a car, w/government oversight in every step of ownership, seems a small price to pay for the priviledge of owning guns!!

    April 2, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  11. Tad

    Okay fine, lets put guns in schools, but this idea should be funded by all the gun owners. They want to have guns, they can pay to protect the rest of us from them. Every year, until they sell or destory the guns they have. The more capable the gun the more they pay.

    That is the only way this idea flies.

    April 2, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  12. Steve- Illinois

    If people would take the time to comprehend the complete statement, instead of jumping on any single sentence, we'd all be a lot better off. He doesn't disagree with the NRA, because the NRA isn't against increaseing background checks. The NRA is against it, under the current system.
    10's of thousands have been denied purchases of guns due to back ground checks, in a single year, 44 were prosecuted. Meaning thousands, upon thousands of people were unnecessarily denied their 2nd Amendment rights, or, we aren't bothering to prosecute the lawbreakers anyway, so what's the point? If the elected officials want to claim it works, due to the thousands denied guns, then why don't they explain why so few are charged with a crime? If there is no reason to charge them, in the majority of cases, is it even worth doing to catch 44 criminals a year? Should we expand a system that is already inept? A system that does not force states to supply the needed information? Should 100's of thousands be denied their rights so we can catch an extra 50 criminals a year?
    Fix the system, then expand it.
    Simple really.

    April 2, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  13. HenryMiller

    I'd go with background checks—as long they were done through an agency completely independent of—or, better, hostile to&msash;the US government.

    April 2, 2013 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  14. S.B. Stein

    This goes to the idea that we don't need additional potential violence around the kids that are there to learn. These people who point to armed guards around money etc don't understand that learning doesn't need to have the element of fear in it.

    April 2, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  15. jtinnm

    Watched interviews with Asa Hutchinson on CNN and MSNBC; Although the former congressman may have issue with the networks or anchors he is being interviewed by, he obviously failed to remember that the whole point of doing these live interviews was to sell the NRA’s proposal on increased school safety to concerned Americans (who like myself, watch these shows) when he let his emotions stand in the way of answering valid questions ( i.e. O’donnell interview). NRA: maybe try a smiling face, a cartoon, or a hand puppet to do your sales pitches because if I’m sold on anything, it’s that I do not trust this guy or you (NRA) to make a plan for my trash pick up, let alone plan for my kid’s safety at school! This guy is slimy!

    April 2, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  16. J.V.Hodgson

    I am literally fed up with the efficacy debate of gun purchase background checks.... why
    1) No law is 100 % perfect , the drafters and us all remain Human and no law 100 % prevents the targeted crime or misdemeanour or civil law breahes.
    2) All laws depend on effective enforcement by those charged with doing so and I find the NRA's lobbying for laws in States that undermine the effectiveness federal laws an almost treasonable act.
    Finally, this gentleman suggests arming all adults on school campuses etc. Mmmm now I'm a gunman and know I have to shoot on sight any adult on campus because for sure they are carrying... then go after the unarmed kids!
    This of course leads automatically to fewer people being shot!?? The logic of that defeats me.
    It does lead to more people shooting at whom the gunman or another armed adult!?

    April 3, 2013 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  17. Marie MD

    Why are we even paying attention to what a bunch of crazies only 4 million strong are saying?

    April 3, 2013 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  18. target

    Hey now, lets not get the facts in the way...

    As President Obama prepares to head to Colorado on Wednesday to push gun control legislation, some are calling into question the validity of a key statistic he’s using to tout his message on near-universal background checks.
    During several speeches, Obama has said 40 percent of all gun purchases were made without a background check.
    But that number is nearly two decades old and comes from a poll with a relatively tiny sample size. Gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association, as well as The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker,” are calling out the president’s stat, saying his numbers on background checks need a background check of their own.

    April 3, 2013 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  19. fayray11x

    how do you spell high priced HO? Asa Hutchinson

    no shame, no conscience, no ethics, no morals, no principals. just greed and blood on his hands

    April 3, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  20. MollyBee

    Every single elementary aged child knows the detail of 20 children getting SHOT while they were in school. Do any of you people ever think about what that does to them? Do NOT try to pass that old lie, "more guns means safer" while your kids and grandkids are wondering if their school will be the next. Any logical person will smack you down for being so ridiculous. Sadly, children in our inner cities have been living with the real fear of getting shot for decades now.

    April 3, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  21. BCW

    In NYC, if teachers carry guns in the classrooms, students might be more respectful to their authority. Otherwise, the teachers might just shoot them to stop their stupidity in class. Class is in order! Great plan NRA. Great Plan.

    April 3, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |