By Jim Morrison
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — National Rifle Association President David Keene said Wednesday he doesn’t expect a filibuster from gun rights supporters as the Senate prepares to vote on potential gun control issues.
Keene spoke at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum in a one-hour event moderated by CNN chief national correspondent John King, who asked him if the NRA would support efforts to filibuster and block the votes.
“The president wants votes on these issues. We want votes. There will be votes,” Keene said.
King also asked him if the NRA would punish members of Congress who support universal background checks on gun purchases, which he said recent polls show most Americans support, and which the NRA at one time supported but now opposes.
Keene responded: “The answer is yes.”
Keene has become a public voice for the gun rights group in national debates following the December mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Twenty children and six educators were killed in the Dec. 14 shooting.
Asked why anyone should be able to own an assault weapon, Keene said that classification is subject to wide interpretation and noted that the AR-15 hunting rifle, for instance, is the most popular long arm rifle in the U.S.
“If it’s commonly owned and widely used for legal purposes, then it should be available to the public,” he said.
He also took questions from students at the sold-out event.
One asked which kinds of weapons Keene thought should be illegal. Keene answered “fully automatic weapons,” which are already illegal for private citizens.
Another student who hoped to be a schoolteacher in the fall asked about the NRA’s support of armed guards in schools and the negative impact it might have on learning.
“You can’t always screen people who are going to do something like this, so security makes sense,” Keene said.