(WASHINGTON) — National Rifle Association board member and president of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist said on Sunday that President Obama and Democrats are politicizing the Newtown tragedy by pushing for gun control.
“We ought to calm down and not take tragedies like this, crimes like this, and use them for political purposes,” Norquist told George Stephanopoulos on This Week. “President Obama has been president for four years. If he thought some gun control could solve this problem, he should have been pushing it years ago.”
“Democrats had a majority in the House and a supermajority in the House and the Senate for the first two years that they were in office. If they thought that this was really an important issue they might have done something then. They didn’t,” he added.
On Wednesday, Obama announced that Vice President Joe Biden would head a task force of leaders from across the country to evaluate solutions to reduce gun violence.
Norquist endorsed the recommendation made by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre at a press conference on Friday to place armed guards in schools across the country.
Other members of the political roundtable pushed for what they called “common sense” gun laws.
Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, who is a member of the pro-gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said that there is more agreement than disagreement on measures to stop the mentally ill and criminals from acquiring weapons.
“I don’t think anyone has seen someone shot—I have,” Booker said. “I don’t know if anybody here has had to put their hand in somebody’s chest, and try to stop the bleeding so that person doesn’t die—I have. What frustrates me about this debate is that it is a false debate.”
“Most of us in America including gun owners agree on things that would stop the kind of carnage that is going on in cities all across America,” Booker said, adding that loopholes that allow criminals to buy guns in “secondary markets” should be closed.
Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan said that LaPierre’s suggestion that the effect of a violent culture on the mentally ill has contributed to increased gun violence, but she believes that Congress should pursue some gun control measures.
“I am for the banning of the extended magazines and extended clips,” Noonan said.
Editor and Publisher of The Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel said that focusing on the mentally ill is a distraction from the issue of gun violence.
“The mental illness argument has been used to evade action,” vanden Huevel said. “More guns and bullets, more dead children.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Daniella Diaz, CNN
Dan Berman, Phil Mattingly and David Mark, CNN Newswire