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NRA President Bob Barr explores the organization’s relevance in an election year


(NEW YORK) — In the organization’s first network television interview in nearly a decade, new NRA President Bob Barr explored the organization’s relevance in an election year.

With Barr assuming leadership of perhaps the nation’s most controversial advocacy group, a significant shift in the NRA’s stance on gun control is not expected. This change comes after years of the NRA consistently thwarting efforts to implement such legislation.

NRA elected new leadership following the resignation of former CEO Wayne LaPierre and another executive, who were found liable for using NRA funds for lavish personal expenses. LaPierre has previously stated he would appeal that decision.

Barr sat down with ABC News to discuss the organization’s relevancy.

ABC NEWS LIVE: One of your opponents, the organization Everytown [for Gun Safety] said because of the turmoil inside the NRA “the gun lobby has never been weaker.” Is the NRA weak?

BARR: No, the NRA is…You look at. Yeah, I suppose our opponents could take this one slice at a time, or one issue.

ABC NEWS LIVE: It’s a pretty big slice. Financial impropriety. A civil judgment.

BARR: It depends on how you look at it. If we’re talking about successes and the impact and the relevancy of the NRA, you look at our victories.  29 states now, the highest ever, have constitutional carry. That’s because of this organization. We are emerging, you know, from the challenge posed by the state of New York attorney general that tried to put us out of business. That was her goal.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Your political contributions are down, your membership revenue is down. There were concerns about making payroll at some point.

BARR: Listen, every organization has its naysayers, but they’re in the minority in whatever organization I’ve been involved in and this one is no different.

ABC NEWS LIVE: In Uvalde, in Buffalo, the list goes on.

BARR: Uvalde was a, the most awful example I’ve ever seen of ineffective law enforcement.

ABC NEWS LIVE: But he bought the gun. That’s true, but he bought the gun legally. And how do you stop that?

BARR: Are ever going to be able to stop everybody from committing a crime with a gun? No, that’s the same way.

ABC NEWS LIVE: But you can’t cut it down?

BARR: Sure. We can cut it down. We can cut it down by better, more effective enforcement of existing laws.

[on U.S. gun legislation and types of guns]

BARR: The difference is one is fully automatic and one is not. I mean, that is a key difference that a lot of our critics just either don’t understand or they know better and they just slough over it anyway.

ABC NEWS LIVE: You’re making the distinction between automatic and semiautomatic.

BARR: Absolutely, there’s a major difference.

ABC NEWS LIVE: But even still, have you seen what an AR-15 does to a body versus what a 9-mm. pistol does?

BARR: I’ve seen what a shotgun can do to a body.

ABC NEWS LIVE: An AR-15. It leaves a cavity.

BARR: Any, any, any, virtually any firearm can do tremendous damage to a human body.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Do you think the United States has a gun violence problem?

BARR: The United States has a violence problem.

ABC NEWS LIVE: But a gun violence problem?

BARR: We have a problem with crime in this country. And if we focus on the instrumentality, we’re going to lose sight of the forest for the trees. We have a cultural problem in America that is many faceted. We can talk about any one of those.

ABC NEWS LIVE: But does it involve guns?

BARR:  We have a lot of crime that doesn’t involve guns in this country.

ABC NEWS LIVE: But a lot of it does.

BARR: Well, and those people should be identified, investigated, prosecuted and put in jail.

There are many areas where the NRA would be willing to work with people from anywhere on the political spectrum, such as increasing the safety in our schools, increasing the training for those who might be in contact with groups of young people.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Is this going to be a fundamentally different NRA?

BARR: No, I mean, the fundamental mission of the NRA is the same today as it was 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, and that is to teach responsible gun ownership, responsible gun usage, and to make programs available to both our members and the population generally that allow people to exercise their God given and constitutionally guaranteed right to defend themselves.

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