NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — NRA President David Keene defended lobbyist Bob Welch’s statement that the group would continue weakening gun laws as soon as the “Connecticut effect” had subsided, saying that he had no reason to apologize.
Welch’s comments came last month at the NRA’s Wisconsin State Convention and were first reported by ThinkProgress. Both Connecticut senators, as well as the congresswoman representing Newtown, condemned the remarks and called on the NRA to repudiate them.
ThinkProgress ran into Keene at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday and asked whether he would apologize for the lobbyist’s remarks. “You only apologize for the things that you did,” Keene replied. As Keene’s entourage tried to prevent ThinkProgress from questioning further, we asked whether he thought Welch ought to apologize, the NRA President was candid: “no.”
KEYES: I know Sen. Blumenthal and some others had called on the NRA to apologize for the “Connecticut effect” comment made by the Wisconsin lobbyist.
KEENE: You only apologize for the things that you did.
KEYES: Do you think that he ought to apologize?
KEYES: No? Do you think it’s insensitive to the families of Newtown?
KEENE: I think uh…
KEYES: Do you think that it’s insensitive, sir? This isn’t a trick question, I’m honestly asking you.
This is the first time the NRA leadership has directly addressed the controversy, though the group had initially claimed no association with Welch, who represents the NRA’s Wisconsin chapter.