Former Rep. Joe Scarborough unleashed a strong condemnation of the National Rifle Association Wednesday, saying its continued opposition to an assault weapons ban and other sensible gun control reforms is doing "serious damage" to the Second Amendment.
"These people are causing serious damage to [their] brand and, more importantly, to the Second Amendment," the Florida Republican and host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" said on his program Wednesday.
He called on Republican lawmakers to reject the NRA's extremist tactics, which includes a harsh, new online ad attacking President Barack Obama as an "elitist hypocrite" for questioning the NRA's call for putting more armed guards in schools while his daughters are protected by the Secret Service.
"Are the president's kids more important than yours?" a narrator asks in the ad. "Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools? Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he's just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security."
The ad drew immediate criticism from Scarborough and former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who called it "disgusting" for focusing on Obama's children, who are considered off limits in political fights.
"They are now a fringe organization . . . What the NRA once was, it no longer is. This extremism is over the line," Scarborough said.
“What’s wrong with these people?"
He went on to warn his party that it could end up paying a high political cost if it continues to bend to lobbying pressure from the gun rights organization to oppose any new gun laws.
"Who's going to pay the most for this? The Republican Party," he said.
To make his point, he brought up a new Washington Post/ABC poll showing the NRA to be out of step with the views of most Americans.
"My hope is that my party will get it," he added.
Scarborough, considered a moderate conservative, said the NRA no longer represents the interest of sensible gun owners and hunters, but is now influenced by a small group of people who believe they need their weapons to protect them against the federal government.
"We don't think the Army is going to kill us, and we don't think we need weapons to kill members of the United States Armed Forces," Scarborough said.
The morning talk show host also went after the NRA in a brief column for Politico on Tuesday, in which he described the organization's CEO, Wayne LaPierre, as "tone deaf" on the issue of sensible gun control measures.
"The NRA’s own approval rating has plummeted since LaPierre’s tone-deaf news conference [after the Newtown, Conn. school shootings]. It is hard to imagine how the NRA's worst enemy could have done more damage to the organization than the out-of-touch leader is doing himself," Scarborough wrote, noting the Post/ABC poll showing that a large majority of Americans now favor universal background checks, a database to track gun sales, and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
"The NRA needs to self-correct before they do more damage to their cause," he added.
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