WASHINGTON — Leaders of the National Rifle Association said Sunday that they would fight any new gun restrictions introduced in Congress, and they made clear that they were not interested in working with President Obama to help develop a broad response to the Connecticut school massacre.
During an appearance on the NBC’s “Meet the Press,’’ Wayne LaPierre, the vice president of the powerful gun lobby, was openly dismissive of a task force established by Obama and led by Vice President Joe Biden that is examining ways to reduce gun violence.
‘‘If it’s a panel that’s just going to be made up of a bunch of people that, for the last 20 years, have been trying to destroy the Second Amendment, I’m not interested in sitting on that panel,’’ LaPierre said.
‘‘The NRA is not going to let people lose the Second Amendment in this country, which is supported by the overwhelming majority of the American people,’’ he said.
At a widely watched news briefing on Friday, LaPierre said the NRA’s solution to prevent mass shootings like those that have occurred in the last few years — several of them on school campuses — was to put armed guards in schools nationwide.
During the briefing, he and the gun group’s president, David Keene, did not directly address plans proposed in the last week that would ban assault rifles or otherwise restrict the availability of firearms.
But during a round of appearances on the Sunday talk shows by LaPierre, Keene, and Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican representative from Arkansas who will lead the gun group’s response to the shooting in Newtown, Conn., they made it clear that the NRA opposed all the gun restrictions now under discussion and did not believe they should be part of the discussion.
Response to Newtown shooting
On the question of whether a limit on high-capacity ammunition would reduce the likelihood of mass shootings like the one in Connecticut, LaPierre said, in a testy exchange with “Meet the Press’’ host David Gregory, ‘‘I don’t think it will.’’
“I keep saying it, and you just won’t accept it — it’s not going to work. It hasn’t worked,’’ LaPierre said.
As for the idea of reinstating a ban on so-called assault rifles, which was in place from 1994 to 2004, he said, ‘‘I think that is a phony piece of legislation, and I do not believe it will pass for this reason: It’s all built on lies that have been found out.’’
While the NRA has been criticized by gun control advocates since it broke its silence about the Connecticut shooting on Friday, it received some support from Senator Lindsay Graham, the influential South Carolina Republican who also appeared Sunday on ‘‘Meet the Press.’’
‘‘People where I live — I’ve been Christmas shopping all weekend — have come up to me: ‘Please don’t let the government take my guns away,’ ’’ Graham said. ‘‘And I’m going to stand against another assault ban because it didn’t work before, and it won’t work in the future.’’
LaPierre’s statement last week that armed guards in all schools are what will stop the next killer was widely denounced, and even some NRA supporters in Congress have publicly distanced themselves from the proposal.
Representative Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, called it ‘‘the most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen.’’
A headline from the New York Post summarized LaPierre’s initial presentation before reporters with the headline: ‘‘Gun Nut! NRA loon in bizarre rant over Newtown.’’
In his “Meet the Press’’ interview, LaPierre said gun permit practices in New York City favor the well-connected over ‘‘the average guy.’’ He said Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “buddies’’ can get permits, but others who need protection cannot. He didn’t name anyone specifically.
A Bloomberg spokesman said New York’s stringent gun laws have greatly helped reduce crime, adding that LaPierre’s remarks ‘‘show his stark disconnect from reality.’’
Bloomberg has long advocated for tougher national gun laws.
Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, said Sunday, ‘‘I have found the statements by the NRA over the last couple of days to be really disheartening, because the statements seem to not reflect any understanding about the slaughter of children’’ in Newtown.Material from the Associated Press was included in this report.