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US gun lobby chief challenges President Obama to televised debate

world Updated: Jan 15, 2016 09:19 IST

US President Barack Obama speaks on stage at a town hall meeting at McKinley Senior High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The head of the US gun lobby Wayne LaPierre has challenged Obama to a televised debate on gun control.(AFP Photo)

The head of the powerful US gun lobby, Wayne LaPierre, challenged President Barack Obama on Thursday to an hour-long televised debate on gun control.

LaPierre threw down the gauntlet in a video posted on the National Rifle Association website, a week after the lobbying group rebuffed Obama’s invitation to debate the issues during a CNN town hall-style meeting January 7.

In the video, LaPierre scornfully dismissed the President’s original offer before laying down his own debate challenge.

“The president’s calculation is clear: Destroy the NRA before the election so Hillary (Clinton) can destroy the second amendment after it. That’s why we won’t get suckered into any of Obama’s fixed fights,” he said.

“But I’ll tell you what: I’ll meet you for a one-on-one one hour debate with a mutually agreed upon moderator on any network that will take it,” he said.

“No pre-screened questions and no gas bag answers. Americans will judge for themselves who they trust and believe on this issue: You or the NRA. Let’s see if you’re game for a fair debate.”

In the video, LaPierre harshly attacks Obama and his record, and vows that the NRA will fight measures the President announced last week that tighten rules on gun sales.

“We know that the President would ban every gun and bullet in America and effectively turn us into Australia,” he said.

“And we know, if HC is elected she will make sure that happens,” he said, referring to Clinton, who is leading the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

He said if Obama “really wanted to make America safer, he’d pick up the phone and tell his Justice Department to flip Chicago upside down until every criminal with a gun, criminal gang-banger with a gun and drug dealer with a gun is arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned to the fullest extent of the law”.

“That would make a difference, that would save lives. But he’s had seven long years to issue that order and he has failed and that is why Americans don’t trust the President,” he said.

In an exchange with the public on Twitter, Obama did not respond to several questions asking whether he would accept LaPierre’s challenge.