NRA chief: Terrorists "on the verge of overwhelming us"

One week after a gunman armed with an assault rifle killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub, National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre said Sunday that gun control legislation would not be effective in stopping mass shootings in the United States.

"What we're doing with this debate on the Hill right now, it's like they're trying to stop a freight train with a piece of Kleenex," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"I think we need to look right in the face of what these people are that we're facing: they don't care about the law," LaPierre continued. "Laws didn't stop them in Boston, laws didn't stop them in San Bernardino, where you had every type of gun control law you can have, and they didn't stop them in Paris, where people can't even own guns."

LaPierre continued, saying President Obama and other Democrats are trying to blame guns for the shooting in Orlando to deflect from their "failure" to effectively combat terrorism.

"We all mourn for what happened, John, but we face a terrorist challenge where they're on the verge of overwhelming us," he said. "What happened this past week is the president, the whole gun ban movement, said don't look at terrorists, look over here, divert your attention, take your eyes off the problem because they don't want to face the embarrassment of their failure in this terrorist area and they want to cover their butts and not talk about it."

LaPierre said the idea of using a watch list to determine who's legally allowed to buy a gun is flawed because federal law enforcement often wants to gather more evidence to build a case against potential terrorists.

"I have never seen so much misinformation and poorly researched stories the last week as that. They set it up exactly the way they wanted it," he said of the watch lists.

"What law enforcement wants to do 90 percent of the time -- 99 percent of the time -- is let it go through. They want to watch it, they want to build a case."

The NRA chief said allowing individuals to own their own guns is so important because terrorists will focus their attention on "soft targets" like schools, malls and churches -- places without armed law enforcement present.

LaPierre broke with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on the issue of concealed carry in clubs like Pulse, where the shooting occurred last weekend. Unlike Trump, LaPierre said he does not believe people should carry guns in drinking establishments.

"I don't think you should have firearms where people are drinking," he said. "But I'll tell you this: everybody, every American needs to start having a security plan, we need to be able to protect ourselves, because they're coming."

Still, he praised Trump, who the NRA endorsed back in May.

"You know, Donald Trump, as far as I know, he wants to attack criminals, he wants to protect the law-abiding, and he wants to attack ISIS and get the bad guys," he said. "And that's where we are."

  • Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis is a reporter/editor for CBS News Digital.