US lobby issues point-blank 'no' on gun control
Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, said on Sunday that planned legislation to outlaw military-style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines was "phony" and would not work.
He repeated the NRA's call to place an armed guard in every school and argued that prosecuting criminals and fixing the mental health system, rather than gun control, were the solutions to America's mass shooting epidemic.
On Dec 14, a disturbed local man, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, killed his mother in their Newtown, Connecticut, home before embarking on a horrific shooting spree at an elementary school.
He blasted his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot dead 20 6- and 7-year old children and six adults with a military-style assault rifle before taking his own life with a handgun as police closed in.
The bloodshed, the latest in a string of mass shootings in the US, has reopened a national debate on the country's gun laws, which are far more lax than in most other developed nations.
US President Barack Obama said he would support a new bill to ban assault rifles, and put Vice-President Joe Biden in charge of a panel looking at a wide range of other measures, from school security to mental health.
Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein has pledged to table a bill on Jan 3 that would ban at least 100 military-style semi-automatic assault weapons, and would curb the transfer, importation and the possession of such arms.
"I think that is a phony piece of legislation, and I do not believe it will pass for this reason," LaPierre told NBC's Meet the Press. "It is all built on lies that have been found out."
The NRA points to the fact that the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, when 12 pupils and a teacher were gunned down by two senior students, occurred despite similar legislation being in force at the time.
"I don't think it will (work). I keep saying it, and you just won't accept it: It's not going to work, it hasn't worked. Dianne Feinstein had her ban and Columbine occurred," LaPierre said.
The 1994 ban, which expired in 2004, prohibited the new manufacture and sale of 19 specific gun models and close copies of those models. It also drew up a list of components, such as a detachable magazine or flash suppressor, that could - from a legal standpoint - upgrade a firearm to an assault weapon. Firearms with two or more such components were banned.