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Notes on the December 23, 2012 Broadcast of Meet The Press

December 23, 2012

All Rights NBC NewsToday’s Meet the Press opened with Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association, standing his ground, blaming the media for mass violence, and calling for armed school guards. “If it is crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to guard our children, then call me crazy,” said LaPierre.

He said he will propose legislation to pay for putting armed guards in schools and will support a voluntary program drawing on retired police and military to provide this service. Host David Gregory pressed him on gun control. LaPierre said that you could do all of Dianne Feinstein’s proposed legislation, and it wouldn’t make us safer.

Gregory asked LaPierre about the Columbine mass shooting example where there were two armed guards who were unable to stop the carnage. LaPierre responded that the procedures in Columbine were bad and have all been changed since then. He used the example of Israel saying they used to have lots of school shootings there until they put armed guards in schools.

Gregory asked if it is LaPierre’s standard that, “If it is possible that lives might be spared, shouldn’t we try it?” Gregory held up an ammo magazine that holds 30 bullets and asked wouldn’t it be worth trying laws that eliminate these clips in favor of ones that hold only five or ten bullets? Wouldn’t that actually save some lives and be worth trying? LaPierre rejected the idea.

Gregory read an extended quote from Federal District Judge Larry Allen Burns, a Bush appointee and NRA member. Burns said that a number of mass shootings had happened because the shooter was able to have very large ammunition clips. LaPierre said a ban on large ammunition clips would not work. He offered no evidence, and instead shifted the conversation to mental health.

Gregory said many people would agree there’s a problem with the mental health system and then asked, would you, therefore, back stronger background checks? LaPierre fell back on the NRA’s position of supporting instant background checks rather than waiting periods.

Again Gregory threw LaPierre’s argument back at him, “You are into the art of the possible. Your standard is anything that has a chance of working we’ve got to try, except when it has to do with controlling guns and ammunition. Don’t you see that people see that as a complete dodge?”

In response, LaPierre said the NRA supports what works, but he said they would not support any limits placed on ammunition magazines

Gregory asked, is there any new gun control regulation the NRA would support? He posed the question three times. LaPierre used many words to avoid saying no

Next up were Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). When asked about LaPierre’s comments, Schumer said, “He is so extreme and so tone deaf, he actually helps the cause of passing sensible gun legislation in Congress. He blames everything but the role of guns.” Schumer said it is like trying to talk about ending lung cancer without talking about cigarettes.

Senator Graham noted that in Columbine we had both armed guards and an assault weapons ban, and it didn’t stop the carnage. He then said, “I don’t know if there is anything Lindsey Graham can do in the Senate to stop mass murder from someone this hell-bent on doing crazy things.”

In response to the question about an assault weapons ban, Graham said, “I own an AR-15. I have it at my home. If you deny me the right to buy another one, have you made America safer?”

When asked if he would ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, Graham said that he can change those magazines pretty quickly. He went on to say that what would really stop the shooter would be an armed guard in the school.

The conversation moved onto the fiscal cliff. Senator Schumer said that last Monday the two sides were very close, so he hopes they keep talking. Graham, perhaps signalling a need for a deal, reminded his Republican colleagues of Ronald Reagan’s rule that said if you can get 80% of what you want, it should be seen as a good deal.

Graham went on to say that the real battle will be when we get the debt ceiling debate. Schumer warned that risking default in the debt ceiling debate is not the way to go.

The potential nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel to the post of Secretary of Defense may be in trouble based on reactions from Graham and Schumer. Graham seemed skeptical and said Hagel will face challenges in the Senate confirmation hearings. Schumer also failed to come to Hagel’s defense.

In the roundtable, NBC’s Chuck Todd predicts there will be a small deal on the fiscal cliff, but he said the president should actually go for a larger deal. Todd predicts an ammunition clip bill might pass Congress, but it will be almost impossible to pass a new assault weapons ban.

Todd said that this is why the president needs to get a big, long term deal on the budget and the fiscal cliff issues. Otherwise the president’s entire first year will be consumed with these budget battles rather than the other issues he’d like to tackle.

Today’s Meet The Press transcript will be here.

Also follow the show on the MTP Facebook page, track Twitter feeds from host David Gregory, Meet The Press, and Executive Producer Betsy Fischer, watch the midweek PressPass interview, and don’t forget Gregory’s blog.

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