WASHINGTON — Leaders of the National Rifle Association said Sunday that they would fight any gun restrictions introduced in Congress and were not interested in working with President Barack Obama to help develop a broad response to the Connecticut school massacre.
During an appearance on the NBC News program Meet the Press, Wayne LaPierre, the vice president of the powerful gun lobby, was dismissive of a task force that will examine ways to reduce gun violence, which was established by Obama and will be led by Vice President Joe Biden.
"If it's a panel that's just going to be made up of a bunch of people that, for the last 20 years, have been trying to destroy the Second Amendment, I'm not interested in sitting on that panel," he said.
The NRA's escalating opposition to new gun laws signaled a tough fight in Congress for any effort by the Obama administration to impose restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity clips, among other measures. With more than 3 million members and historically strong support from many congressional Republicans and Democrats, the association has proved to be one of Washington's most effective groups in rallying support.
David Keene, the president of the group, said on the CBS News program Face the Nation that reinstituting a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons "doesn't solve the problem."
"We will continue to oppose a ban on semiautomatic weapons that are used for perfectly legitimate purposes," Keene said.
"We're talking about sporting arms," he added.
At a widely watched news conference on Friday, LaPierre said the NRA's solution to prevent mass shootings like those that have occurred in the last few years — several of them on school campuses — was to put armed guards in schools nationwide. He and Keene took no questions during that appearance, and they did not directly address plans proposed in the last week that would ban assault rifles or otherwise restrict the availability of firearms.
But during the round of appearances on the Sunday talk shows by LaPierre, Keene and Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas who will lead the gun group's response to the shooting in Newtown, Conn., they made it clear that the NRA opposed any of the restrictions under discussion.
On the question of whether a limit on high-capacity ammunition magazines would reduce the likelihood of shootings like the one in a Connecticut school, in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults before committing suicide, LaPierre told David Gregory, the host of Meet the Press, "I don't think it will."