National Rifle Association President David Keene tells Newsmax that new gun control legislation won’t pass in Congress when lawmakers realize it will do nothing to stem gun violence.
He also predicts the Senate won’t pass the United Nations treaty regulating international gun trade, saying it would “restrict the Second Amendment rights of our citizens.”
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And he warns that the establishment of a registry for gun owners could be the first step toward the “confiscation” of firearms in America.
Keene assumed the presidency of the NRA and its 4-million-plus members in May 2011. Previously he served as chairman of the American Conservative Union from 1984 to 1991.
President Barack Obama heads to Newtown, Conn., next week after pressing for more gun regulations in Colorado: an assault weapons ban, a prohibition on high-capacity ammo magazines, and universal background checks, which Obama insists are for criminals and not a gun registration system.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Keene says he disagrees with that assertion: “The reality is that it is a gun registration system. His own Justice Department has said that there’s no reason to do the background checks unless you can put together a national gun registry.
“Under today’s laws if a criminal goes to Wal-Mart to try to buy a firearm and is prohibited from doing so when he undergoes the background check, that name is kept so he can be prosecuted. It is a felony for a criminal to attempt to buy a firearm and they can be prosecuted for that, but this administration doesn’t prosecute those people.
“A national gun registry is illegal under current federal law. The NRA is against it. Historically if you’re going to impose stricter gun regulations, including confiscation, you start with the registry. Both Andrew Cuomo in New York and Dianne Feinstein in California have in the past said that if we could just get a registry we could then have what they call forced buy-backs. In other words, I know you own this firearm, you’re either going to sell it to the government at a price we set or you’re going to be a criminal. That’s one of the dangers of a national gun registry.”
White House officials concede that Sen. Harry Reid’s new gun control legislation could die in Congress.
But Keene cautions: “It’s always hard to bet against an incumbent president if he’s willing to use all of the power and the money at his disposal. If he opens up the treasury and starts building dams and bridges and libraries, Lord knows how many votes he’ll get as a result of that.
“But we’ve always believed that if senators and congressmen take the time to listen to their constituents and to really study the impact of some of these proposals, much of what they thought they were going to pass won’t pass.
“The reason is many of these things are basically what I call feel-good proposals. They won’t do anything to either cut gun crime on the one hand or gun violence as the president calls it on the other. They won’t prevent another Newtown, they won’t prevent a criminal in Chicago from robbing a 7-11. What they will do is put increased burdens on honest American gun owners who have every right under the Second Amendment to own and use firearms.”
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations recently voted to approve a treaty restricting the international trade of firearms. Asked if the treaty will get the two-thirds vote needed for Senate ratification, Keene responds: “I don’t believe that the treaty will be ratified. A number of Republican senators and at least one Democrat have already come out and said they’re against ratification.
“I was appointed by President Bush to the U.N. commission during its last series of negotiations leading up to this treaty. I can tell you that from the beginning, while they talk about denying tanks and rocket launchers and all the rest to guerilla groups around the world, what the U.N. is really after is the private ownership of firearms.
“The United States had earlier proposed – we withdrew this under the Obama administration – that civilian ownership of firearms, side arms and long arms, should be exempted from this treaty. The U.N. has on every occasion refused to do that, so the treaty as it’s written is going to go to the president who is going to sign it.
“Before the Obama administration came in, the U.S. had taken a very strong position that we would not participate in a treaty that did in fact require us to restrict the Second Amendment rights of our citizens. This treaty would do that.
“The president’s got to get two-thirds of the Senate to approve this treaty. I don’t think he’s going to get that.
“This is going to be, however, a problem going into the future. What the Obama administration is going to do with this treaty, although it won’t be ratified, is say they have an obligation to attempt to do domestically whatever they can to restrict gun rights, consistent with the treaty.”
Connecticut lawmakers recently approved a wide-ranging bill with sweeping new restrictions on weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines.
Keene observes: “The real threats are the kinds of things that have already happened in New York, happened this week in Connecticut, and are happening as we speak in Maryland.
“In the Connecticut situation, they invoked an emergency clause which allows the governor, without going through any committee of the legislature, without having any hearings, to put a package before the two houses of the legislature and demand a vote. In New York, Gov. Cuomo put together a package in the dark of night, didn’t have any hearings, didn’t have any debate, nobody had a chance to read it, and they passed it.
“These are feel-good packages put together either because of the emotion of the moment or, in the New York and Maryland cases, because of governors who are trying to use them because they want to run in the Democratic Party for president and are trying to appeal to the most left-wing groups within that party for primary votes.
“In the process, they’re not only burdening honest citizens, but they are crossing a constitutional line. These so-called assault weapons bans cover semi-automatic firearms that are widely owned in this country, commonly used for legitimate purposes.
“The AR-15, which is sort of the poster child for these folks, is owned by about 4.5 million private American citizens. It’s the most used long arm in competition and long arm training. It’s used for self-defense, for home defense, and for hunting.
“Unless the Supreme Court is changed in some significant way, many of these laws, once they make it up there, are going to be struck down.”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has created a new organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, with a $12 million anti-gun advertising campaign. Keene believes his efforts will fail.
“Here’s Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, who’s basically said I will spend up to a billion dollars if I have to to go out and buy policy that I like on this,” he tells Newsmax.
“It’s not enough to ban soft drinks, it’s not enough to ban painkillers in New York’s hospitals. He wants to go out and essentially repeal the Second Amendment and he’s spending money to do it.
“He’s advertising now in states where Democratic senators are up for election next time and are going to be crucial votes on these matters when they come before the Senate. He has every right under the First Amendment to spend his money, but the fact of the matter is that a New York mayor, like Michael Bloomberg, who’s well-known for wanting to regulate every aspect of citizens’ lives, does not have the influence he thinks he has in some of these states because the people in these states are smart enough to know exactly where this money’s coming from and exactly what he’s trying to accomplish.”
Keene also discusses the NRA’s push to put armed guards in schools across the country, which was recently unveiled by former GOP Congressman Asa Hutchinson.
The drive to put guards in schools has “gained a lot of traction,” he says.
“Asa is not just a former congressman, he’s former number two man at Homeland Security, former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and a former U.S. attorney. So he has a broad background in this kind of thing.
“In addition to that, the task force he put together included, among others, a former director of the United States Secret Service. And what they did was they asked the question that the Obama administration has been loath to ask, and that is not what do we do about guns, but what do we do to protect our children? And their conclusion was, based on the empirical evidence available over many years, that armed security is a very effective part of any attempt to protect our children.
“Already 30,000 schools in this country out of 135,000 have armed security. And so what they suggested is that every school district assess its needs not just in terms of the need for armed guards or police presence or volunteer presence or whatever, but that we as a nation look at this and, if we’re going to do it and if schools want it, that we provide the training and the expertise so that we can protect our children, for the simple reason that almost all of the people who are involved in this kind of thing [shootings] are not traditional criminals but people who are, quite frankly, insane. We can’t screen all those out of the general population.
“One of the most effective ways to prevent them from doing what they do in their fantasies is to provide security. These people, as experience shows, are not want-to-be warriors, they’re want-to-be mass murders and they look for unarmed places where they can go to accomplish their objective. Armed security prevents that.”
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