NRA’s Hutchinson: Call for more gun restrictions is the ‘wrong debate’

National Rifle Association (NRA) consultant and former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) on Sunday defended the gun-rights lobby’s proposal to have armed guards in schools to prevent a repeat of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week” Hutchinson, who is heading up the NRA’s efforts on school safety, said the calls for more restrictions on gun ownership would do little to solve the problem of gun violence.

“When it comes to more restrictions on firearms in our society, that if we go down that path, we're going to miss the focal point of providing safety. I think that is really the wrong debate to have,” said Hutchinson. “We've had an assault weapon ban previous in our history. You had school violence continue. It's not restricted to weapons. You think of Timothy McVeigh, he used fertilizer to conduct his mayhem.

“Congress is going to debate this. I just think it's not part of the ultimate solution on this,” he added of calls for heightened gun restrictions. 

Hutchinson added that he believed that more restrictions would only give Washington a false sense of security. 

“Whenever you pass those kind of laws, you think, well, we've done something. We've somehow made our children more safe, so you go home,” he said. “I don't think the job is really accomplished anything if you take that approach.”

At a press conference on Friday, NRA President Wayne LaPierre called for a national program to place armed officers in every school in the country, arguing that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

The proposal, though, was met with sharp criticism from congressional Democrats who blasted the plan as “reckless” and “careless.”

The tragedy in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman opened fire at an elementary school, killing 26, including 20 children, has sparked renewed debate over gun control.

President Obama has established a White House task force, headed by Vice President Joe Biden, to examine the root causes of the nation’s gun crime epidemic and offer proposals to stem the violence.

Senate Democrats have also said they intend to act, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) vowing to reintroduce a bill to ban assault weapons.

But any such efforts will run against the strength of the NRA, the nation’s largest gun rights advocacy group.

Hutchinson on Sunday denied that the NRA was for mandating that every school district place armed officers on school campuses, saying that the organization supported “local choice.” But he suggested that school districts and municipalities that implemented the proposal would see support from residents. 

“If you have a choice of sending your child to a school that has that type of protection versus not, I think most people in America would say, let's go to what would be the school that invests in that type of safety and security,” said Hutchinson.

He also compared the proposal to the implementation of the federal air marshal program, which was put in place to prevent acts of air piracy.

“There was intense debate that on airplanes, guns have no place, and yet we have a federal air marshal program that I helped to oversee, and which has provided a deterrent. It has increased the safety of the airlines, and it's not like it's an armed camp when you go on the airlines. It's a very discreet use of armed guards that has a presence there to protect America, said Hutchinson.

“Are our children less important to protect than our air transportation? I don't think so. So I think it's a very reasonable approach.”