WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The head of the National Rifle Association says the organization has no problem with tighter background checks of gun purchasers.
But association president David Keene also says too much emphasis has been placed on banning certain firearms, saying it “is not going to accomplish very much.”
In an interview on “CBS This Morning” Thursday, Keene argues, quote, “The real question that needs to be addressed is not what we do about guns, but what we do to make our schools safer.”
The NRA has come under close scrutiny in the wake of Newtown, Conn., shootings that killed 20 children and six adults.
Keene said officials should focus more attention on a “devastatingly broken mental health system in this country,” if they genuinely want to end gun violence.
He said the NRA has been “generally supportive” of stronger background checks.
As Vice President Joe Biden finalizes a package of recommendations for the president to curb gun violence, the National Rifle Association predicted that Congress is likely to block any new laws that would ban assault weapons.
The NRA has so far prevented passage of another assault weapons ban like the one that expired in 2004. But some lawmakers say the December massacre in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman slaughtered 20 young children and six adults, has transformed the country, and Americans are ready for stricter gun laws.
The NRA is pushing for measures that would keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, until a person gets better.
“If they are cured, there ought to be a way out of it,” Keene told the Associated Press.
Currently, a person is banned from buying a gun from a licensed dealer if the person is a fugitive, a felon, convicted of substance abuse, convicted of domestic violence, living in the U.S. illegally or someone who “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution.”
States, however, are inconsistent in providing information about mentally ill residents to the federal government for background checks. And, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said some 40 percent of gun sales happen with no background checks, often at gun shows or through private sellers over the Internet or in classified ads.
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