NRA Puts Up $1
for Safe Kids Campaign
By Susan Jones
CNS Morning Editor
08 May, 2000
(CNSNews.com) - The National Rifle Association, a longtime proponent of gun safety with its Eddie Eagle and other gun-training programs, is calling for additional gun "education" measures, one week before the Million Mom March for "sensible gun laws" takes place in Washington.
Monday morning, on national television and in full-page newspaper ads, the NRA touted its longstanding commitment to making kids safe, announcing that it is contributing $1 million toward a firearms safety education program geared toward young children.
Speaking on NBC's Today show, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne La Pierre said, "The objective should be to put firearms safety education in every elementary classroom in America, to teach young kids that if they find a gun under any circumstances, stop, don't touch it, leave the area, and go find an adult."
LaPierre also issued a challenge to the Million Mom group as well as to corporations and others concerned about gun violence.
"The million moms of the NRA challenge the organizers of the Million Mom March to also kick in a million [dollars], and let's come out of this week with something that really makes kids safe - education in every elementary classroom in America."
"We're pro-Mom," LaPierre reassured NBC anchor Katie Couric, indicating that the NRA will seek common ground with the "million moms" expected to gather in Washington on May 8 - Mother's Day.
LaPierre said the NRA supports the idea of safety locks being sold with handguns and would even accept background checks at gun shows with a 24-hour wait.
But gun licensing - another demand of the Million Mom March -- won't work, said LaPierre, because "only honest people will license their guns. The criminals could care less."
What would be more effective, said LaPierre, is "100 percent prosecution of violent felons with guns, drug dealers with guns, and violent gangs with guns. Let criminals know, "if you touch a gun, you're going to jail. That would save lives," he said.
Statistics showing that 12 kids a day are killed by gun violence are misleading, LaPierre said.
"Those kids you're talking about are not young children," he said. "That's one of the confusing things here...They're 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-year-old violent gang members --everything they're doing with a gun is already prohibited.
"We just need to enforce existing laws on the books," said LaPierre - something he says we're not doing right now.
The Million Mom March is expected to draw about 100,000 protestors to Washington next Sunday. Organizers say smaller demonstrations will take place simultaneously in dozens of other cities.
The main organizer is a New Jersey woman, Donna Dees-Thomases, who said she was motivated to do something about gun violence when she saw television pictures of children being led out of a Jewish community center in Granada Hills, California last August, after a gunman's random attack.
A string of school shootings helped mobilize other women. "Our maternal instincts were just kicking in," Dees-Thomases explained. Dees-Thomases is well connected in political and media circles -- the sister-in-law of Clinton campaign veteran Susan Thomases.
Gun control legislation is currently stalled in Congress. Republicans accuse Democrats of refusing to compromise, with the idea of making Republicans look bad in an election year.
The Clinton administration is lobbying hard for gun control, with President Clinton leading the effort every chance he gets.
While the Million Mom March is expected to generate powerful pictures and moving speeches for television next Sunday, it remains to be seen what impact it will have on the intended targets - members of Congress and political candidates.
NRA Puts Up $1 Million for "Safe Kids" Campaign
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