Conservative activist Grover Norquist on Sunday accused President Obama and Democrats of politicizing the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. to push for gun control.
“We have got to calm down and not take tragedies like this, crimes like this, and use them for political purposes,” said Norquist, a prominent anti-tax activist and board member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Democrats had a majority in the House and a super majority 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. So what they're now doing is politicizing a tragedy rather than trying to do something that might,” he added.
Norquist’s comments brought a sharp rebuke from Democrat Cory Booker, mayor of Newark. Booker, who appeared on the same panel as Norquist, said that both sides in the gun control debate needed to move past “political” positions.
“What happened in Connecticut was a grievous tragedy but every single day in America, every single day, people in communities like mine go to bed fearing violence,” said Booker.
“I'm tired of the political debates. They're not necessary. I'm tired of the ideological positions. We don't even need to visit them. Let's stick to the pragmatic center where all Americans believe the same thing,” he added.
The mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown has sparked a renewed debate on gun control. President Obama has called for legislators to pass bans on assault weapons ban and high-capacity magazine clips.
But the NRA is standing steadfast against new restrictions on firearm ownership. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre on Friday called for a national program to place armed guards in American schools to help stem future mass shootings. Democrats, though, have strongly criticized that proposal.
Norquist on Sunday said that lessening restrictions on gun ownership could help prevent more gun crime.
“We ought to take a look at what has worked,” he said. “You want to drop the number of murders, you want to drop the number of rapes, you want to drop the number of armed robberies, have more people with concealed carry permits in your state. The data out there is clear. It's been out there for decades now.”