Asa Hutchinson - the former congressman who will lead the effort by the NRA to place armed security guards in schools across the country following the Newtown, Conn. shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead - told me this morning on "This Week" that gun control efforts would not be part of the "ultimate solution" to gun violence.
"I would make the point when it comes to more restrictions on firearms in our society, that if we go down that path, we're going to miss the focal point of providing safety. I think that is really the wrong debate to have. We've had an assault weapon ban previous in our history, " said Hutchinson. "You had school violence continue. It's not restricted to weapons. You think of Timothy McVeigh, he used fertilizer to conduct his mayhem. So I would rather focus on the safety side, what can we do to better secure and protect our children at school."
Hutchinson echoed the argument put forth by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre on Friday that armed guards were critical to the security of school children and pushed back against criticism from Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who said schools should not be turned into "armed camps." But Hutchinson compared the need for security in schools to airline security.
"Let's compare this back to the federal air marshal program on airplanes. There was intense debate that on airplanes, guns have no place, and yet we have a federal air marshal program that I helped to oversee, and which has provided a deterrent," he said. "It has increased the safety of the airlines, and it's not like it's an armed camp when you go on the airlines. It's a very discreet use of armed guards that has a presence there to protect America."
"I think that when you look at school safety, you've got to put armed guards into the equation. I've made it clear that it should not be a mandatory law, that every school has this. There should be local choice, but absolutely, I believe that protecting our children with an armed guard who is trained is an important part of the equation," said Hutchinson.
I pressed Hutchinson on why he opposed the idea of a solution that incorporated both elements of gun restrictions and armed security at schools, but he was skeptical of that approach.
"I think it takes away - it - whenever you pass those kind of laws, you think, well, we've done something. We've somehow made our children more safe, so you go home. I don't think the job is really accomplished anything if you take that approach," he said.