This week on "Face the Nation", National Rifle Association President David Keene doubled down on the NRA's press statement Friday that, in light of the Newtown school shooting, national attention should focus on the mentally ill, on violence in entertainment and on school security, but not in any substantive changes to gun legislation.
When discussing a ban on assault weapons, Keene noted "The FBI, the Justice Department and others who studied it said it made no difference. So if we're looking at things that are effective, let's talk about it. But first let's talk about protecting our kids." Keene called again for armed guards at schools, before making a clear distinction between semi-automatic and automatic weapons, stating, "We'll continue to oppose a ban on semi-automatic weapons that are used for perfectly legitimate purposes. These aren't military weapons...military weapons are fully automatic weapons. And that's illegal."
Keene closed by once again pushing for greater attention to the mentally handicapped. Said Keene, "We have, since the late 1960s, been urging that those people who were adjudicated to be mentally ill be included in the national database." Still, Keene balked at the idea of a similar database listing gun owners, saying, "We check them. In this country we don't like to maintain huge databases of everybody. We have privacy rights. We have constitutional rights."
"Face the Nation" was then joined by Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, R.-TX and Mark Warner, D.-VA, who have both historically received "A" ratings from the National Rifle Association. Both Senators expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of gun laws in the country, and called for a reassessment. Warner said, "Simply saying existing gun laws are enough, the status quo's acceptable, just didn't pass my gut check as a father...I think we need a comprehensive approach."
Hutchison agreed that a new approach was necessary, saying, "You know, I think we ought to be looking at where the real danger is, like those large clips, I think that does need to be looked at." Still, Hutchison was quick to point out that guns were only part of the problem, warning, "What hasn't been mentioned in this conversation is also the violence in our society, what children and kids are seeing."
Both Senators also discussed the fiscal cliff; with tax cuts set to expire next week, Hutchison and Warner expressed disappointment, but did say that they thought a temporary deal would avert major damage to the economy. Said Hutchison, "I have an abiding faith that we will not leave and that this is going to take Presidential leadership, hands on leadership, it's going to take both houses of Congress and everyone to realize that we can't let taxes go up on working people in this country." Additionally, Hutchison said she'd be open to extending tax cuts "at a reasonable salary level," in keeping with President Obama's proposed tax plan.
Tim Scott, the Senator-Designate and current Congressman from South Carolina who was just appointed to fill Jim DeMint's vacated Senate seat sounded off on his own thoughts on the fiscal cliff negotiations and what the stalemate may mean for Speaker Boehner's political career. Scott dismissed any idea that the failed negotiations may cost Boehner his support in the House, saying "Speaker Boehner will be the Speaker next year without any question. The onus right now is on Senator Reid and the President to come up with a solution, make it a piece of legislation, pass it through the Senate, present it to the House and let's get back to the bargaining table."
Scott also called any proposed changes to gun legislation "premature" in light of the Newtown shooting. The newly appointed Senator referred instead to the task force headed by Vice President Biden, saying "I think after we have the committee's report we should take a very serious look at whatever it takes to keep our kids safe at school. We don't know what that is yet and we're just finishing the week of so many funerals - we should continue to pray for the family members."
Bob Schieffer then spoke to Ben Affleck, director and star of the motion picture 'Argo', about the success of his film, his work with the Eastern Congo Initiative, and a potential future political career. Affleck, who testified to the House Armed Service last week, restated his concern for the Eastern Congo region, saying it's, "about paying attention to this, and using the leverage of the moral authority of the United States to save lives." The actor called for a presidential-level envoy to Congo in the hopes of establishing an effective response to the human rights crisis.
In light of Senator John Kerry's recent nomination to Secretary of State, host Bob Schieffer then speculated on a potential political run for Affleck. The actor laughed, but refused to rule out the possibility, saying, "I'm not one to get into conjecture. I do have a great fondness and admiration for the political process in this country, it's a big deal for me to come down here and be on your show that I've watched so much. But I'm not going to get into speculation about my political future."
As always, be sure to check out our, featuring CBS Correspondents Margaret Brennan and Major Garrett, and Politico Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen. For the full episode of "Face the Nation", see above.