NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch told ABC News 'This Week' host George Stephanopoulos the focus in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting should be local and FBI officials.
She also said we "need to have a conversation about" Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, "because this all stems from their dereliction of duty." Sheriff Israel said he has provided "amazing" leadership for Broward County in an interview Sunday, and announced he is launching an investigation to find out what went wrong.
"I know now they say it was 23 times they had calls [about the attaker], in addition to two FBI tips and numerous reports from classmates," Loesch said about the many tips the police had gotten about the eventual school shooter. "Under Florida law, they actually had the authority to go arrest that individual before anything could be done."
"I wish as much attention were given to the Broward County Sheriff and their abdication of duty, as trying to blame 5 million innocent law-abiding Americans out there [who belong to the NRA]," Loesch said.
"If someone is online, using their name, saying they’re going to shoot up a school, if they’re banned from school because they’ve taken bullets and knives in their backpack to school, if they’ve been sending messages saying that they’re going to shoot and kill their classmates, that, to me, sounds like a potential school shooter," the NRA spokesperson said.
Loesch also said: "Family and neighbors called the Broward County Sherriff’s Office to report this individual and they did not follow up. That is the headline."
Transcript courtesy of CNN:
DANA LOESCH, SPOKESPERSON, NRA: Well the NRA has made their position incredibly clear. The five million members of the NRA have made their position incredibly clear, and I do want to caution people... because I know that people are trying to find daylight between President Trump and five million law-abiding gun owners and law-abiding gun owners all across the United States.
These are just things that he’s discussing right now, I think that it’s great that as president, he had all of these individuals, all of these constituents come into the White House, he had this listening session, he’s really looking for solutions, he wanted to hear what they had to say, and that’s what he’s doing...
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president has also talked about banning these bump stocks, is the NRA prepared to back that?
LOESCH: Well the NRA already made it clear, the ATF needs to do their job and they need to make sure that their definitions are consistent, the NRA called for this before the president made a statement before he also asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, Dana, the ATF --
LOESCH: They’re on the same page.
STEPHANOPOULOS: No they’re not, they’re actually not on the same page. The ATF says they don’t have the authority right now to ban bump stocks, the president’s now said he wants those to be banned, will the NRA back that?
LOESCH: The NRA doesn’t back any ban, the NRA has asked the ATF to do its job and make sure that these classifications are consistent.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about this call from the president to arm teachers in schools?
LOESCH: I think that if a school and if parents and teachers voluntarily choose to be armed, I think that’s something that schools are going to have to come up with and determine for themselves.
The NRA has had a program, the School Shield program which people can find online, it has so far assisted 150 schools across the country in coming up with solutions for this, making sure that students and teachers are protected, and as Wayne LaPierre said, as I have said before as well, George, the NRA has tons of resources that are at school’s and teacher’s and parent’s disposal on this issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you -- I know you want armed security in schools, do you want teachers to be armed? Because you’ve seen a lot of teachers all across the country state that that’s not a job we want.
LOESCH: If teachers voluntarily choose to and if parents would like it. George, my kids go to a school where teachers voluntarily chose to get trained and carry firearms for their protection and the protection of the students, and this is something that as parents of this school and educators in this community, everyone came together and determined that that was the best thing for that school. This is something that parents and educators are going to have to determine for their schools.
But the NRA’s clear with school shield. We have tons of solutions. And if schools -- George, if schools determine that maybe perhaps firearms, that’s not the way that they want to go, the NRA has solutions for them on that, too. Our resources are at their disposal.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of people wondering how a shooter like this could get an AR-15. As you know, there’ve been many calls to ban semi-automatic weapons, including most recently from Republican Congressman Brian Mast of Florida, an army veteran, lost both his legs in Afghanistan, a long-time NRA member. He says it’s time to have a ban. Let’s look.
REP. BRIAN MAST (R), FLORIDA: I carried an M-4 carbon. Very similar to an AR-15. I was carrying that weapon on the battlefield in the most dangerous country on earth for one reason, because of it’s lethality. And my community and my kids and our schools, I don’t think that they’re made safer by the -- the general population of civilians having unfettered access to the best weapon the army could put in my hands.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What’s your response to Congressman Mast?
LOESCH: Well first off, I think that I want to remind everybody that when students go back to school, that next week in Parkland, the Broward County Sherriff’s Office, who I think we need to have a conversation about as well, because this all stems from their dereliction of duty and I know they say now it’s 23 times that they had called in, in addition to two FBI tips and numerous reports from classmates --
STEPHANOPOULOS: I don’t think --
LOESCH: It is. And under Florida law, they actually had the authority to go and arrest that individual before anything could be done and I wish that as much attention were given to the Broward County Sheriff and their abdication of duty as trying to blame 5 million innocent law-abiding gun owners all across the country for this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There’s been no blaming here. All I’m asking is --
LOESCH: No, there has been, though.
STEPHANOPOULOS: All I’m asking is your position on the AR-15.
LOESCH: There -- I know, but there has been. I think it’s very important. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle. And I want to remind everybody that when you had a former Bernie Sanders staff member who tried to shoot up a baseball field full of congressional members with an SKS, it was that security that used their handguns to take down that individual. Now as far as an AR-15, this is semi-automatic. People keep calling these weapons of war.
This thing originated in the civilian market before it was adapted by the military. This is really a discussion about banning all semi-automatic firearms. And I wish that we could be genuine in our discussion of that. That -- that’s the position on AR-15. And AR-15s are going to be in that school protecting students and teachers when they return back to class. But as far as banning on semi-automatic firearms, I think people need to just come out and say that that’s what they’re really talking about instead of AR-15.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well I think he was -- he was -- he was quite clear right there. He says they have to come up with a definition, it should be done. And there was, as you know, an assault weapon ban for 10 years, from 1994 --
LOESCH: And you yourself, though -- you yourself said that that actually didn’t have any overall effect on the crime rate. There have been numerous studies that show that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It did not --
LOESCH: You’re correct on that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It did not eliminate that, but there actually have been studies that showed it did have an effect. I just want to bring up from the University of Massachusetts researcher Larry -- Louis Klarevas, shows that -- look at that right there. From 1984 to 1994, you had 19 incidents, 155 deaths. Then ’94 to 2004 it goes down. 12 incidents, only 89 deaths. The ban expires, we see the -- we see the casualties go way up again.
LOESCH: And there are also studies that show -- and you yourself have acknowledged before -- previously -- just a couple of years ago that it did not have much of an effect on the crime rate. Furthermore --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it does have an effect on the -- on the lethality of mass shootings.
LOESCH: -- but -- but furthermore -- I want to point this out, George -- I want to -- I want to point this out, though. Three percent -- only three percent of homicides in the United States actually are carried out with rifles. The highest number actually goes in with handguns. And these are illegally possessed by repeat offenders because these people keep getting slaps on their wrist.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And no one’s saying
LOESCH: But here’s the bigger point, though, George --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- let me just -- excuse me for a second. No one’s saying this is going to eliminate every single killing. But we do know we are the only country that has wide access to these kind of weapons and no one else has the frequency or the mass shooting that we do.
LOESCH: That’s actually not true.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is.
LOESCH: France had a higher casualty rate in one year than the entire two administrations of Barack Obama and they’re a fifth of our population. But George, here’s the biggest point here. We’re talking about banning firearms, and that’s really the discussion.
Can we actually look at what could have prevented this? That firearm did not walk itself into the school, an individual who was allowed to go unchecked by the Broward County Sherriff’s Office allowed that firearm to go in this school.
This is not the fault nor are five million innocent law-abiding Americans culpable for this, and many of us are parents too, George. I want to see as much attention on the Broward County sheriff, the FBI -- the two FBI tips, and the numerous calls.
George, I’m not a member of the FBI, I’m not a member of law enforcement, but I’m going to tell you if someone is online, using their name, saying they’re going to shoot up a school, if they’re banned from school because they’ve taken bullets and knives in their backpack to school, if they’ve been sending messages saying that they’re going to shoot and kill their classmates, that, to me, sounds like a potential school shooter.
Family and neighbors called the Broward County Sherriff’s Office to report this individual and they did not follow up. That is the headline.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Could not agree more -- could not agree more on that point, that is certainly a factor, no question about it.
LOESCH: That is what -- that’s what minimizes this -- that’s what minimizes casualties, when we follow up.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s one of -- it’s one of the things that minimizes casualties, most Americans also believe --
LOESCH: It’s the thing that minimizes casualties.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- almost all Americans believe that background checks for all gun -- all gun purchases make a huge difference. Recent poll from (inaudible), 97 percent of Americans support that, the NRA opposes it.
You know, we’ve seen all these NRA members I just cited who are now calling (ph) --
LOESCH: Well and I want to point out the question for that poll, by the way, was do you support background checks if it prevents, you know, those who are dangerous and -- and terrorists, et cetera from getting firearms.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think they just don’t work?
LOESCH: And I think -- I think everybody -- I think everybody supports background checks, and I want to point out that it was the NRA that created the NICS system. Here’s the problem, George.
Do you realize that right now -- and politicians could change this today, they could change it tomorrow, did you know that right now seven million prohibited possessors can walk into a gun store and legally purchase a firearm?
People who have received due process, who through violent criminal behavior are illegally barred from purchasing and carrying firearms, people who have been adjudicated mentally unfit because they’re a danger to themselves and others, they can right now go and buy a firearm because as it stands right now, only 38 states are reporting less than 80 percent of these convictions to the NICS system. That’s huge.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Dana you know -- you know perfectly well the reason states are mandated to go through that system is because of a lawsuit the NRA filed.
LOESCH: That’s actually a grotesque misunderstanding, I’m sorry to that. In Printz versus the United States, that’s what you’re talking about. That case that you’re specifically referring to, George, actually was a case where the federal government was trying to force states to implement and administer a federal program at the state level.
However, that case that you’re citing, the one that the NRA contributed amicus brief to says that that case did not do anything to stop states from reporting dangerous people who have been criminally convicted to the federal government.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Dana, as you know, the NRA has consistently sought to defund the background system, has fought against the background check system. But I just want to understand --
LOESCH: That’s not true, George. That’s not true.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to a broader -- a broader --
LOESCH: We created the NICS system and we’re the ones for over 25 years who have been saying that these states need to report these dangerous people -- I want to get seven million who are a danger to others, I want to prevent them from purchasing a firearm, don’t you?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I -- I want to prevent every --
LOESCH: Are you going to have politicians on this program calling them?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Will you support them -- will you support background checks --
LOESCH: Are you going -- no, are you going --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- for all gun purchases?
LOESCH: We have background checks for firearm purchases.
STEPHANOPOLOUS: For all fun purchases, for every single one.
LOESCH: We have background checks. We have -- give me an example.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It doesn’t, there’s no mandatory background checks for private sales or for gun shows.
LOESCH: You -- well most gun shows have -- have background checks. Here’s the thing, this is all federally regulated and the penalties are terrifying and severe. There is no loophole, it is a criminal act if you are a prohibited possessor to acquire a firearm.
We need to stop calling criminal acts loopholes. But to this point are you going to have politicians on this program and demand that they had their states comply by reporting these prohibited possessors to the system?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I -- I think that is a great idea. Final question, President Trump said at the beginning that NRA is ready to do new things. Is there any new proposal you’re willing to support now that you weren’t supporting before?
LOESCH: We have been supporting proposals to make sure that the system works. We’ve been calling for politicians to work with us and make sure that dangerous people who have received due process and should not be accessing firearms -- no one -- we are all in agreement, George. This madman should have never been able to purchase this firearm. Ever.
If I could follow up on all of those red flags and prevented it, you bet I would. I’m a parent. I see my kids in every child. Parents make up the NRA membership. We see our kids in everybody. We don’t ever want to see anything like this again. This is why we have been calling so loudly, George, to make sure that politicians step up. They could change this. Report these prohibitive possessors into the system, number one.
Number two, however schools and parents determine that they best want to keep their kids safe, the NRA is here to work with them. Our resources -- I’ll say it again -- are at their disposal. School shield program’s a great start.