Friday, January 11, 2013

NRA Pushes Back Against White House Gun Control Agenda

At the Wall Street Journal, "Biden's Emerging Gun Push Draws NRA Ire":

Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday he would recommend the White House push for broad measures to stem gun violence, citing growing support for tighter background checks on gun purchasers, restrictions on high-capacity clips and other moves.

But the National Rifle Association delivered a swift rebuke following a meeting with Mr. Biden, saying the administration was gearing up for an attack on gun ownership.

Mr. Biden said he would deliver his recommendations Tuesday to President Barack Obama, who has promised a quick effort to put them into practice. The strong opposition from the NRA, the nation's most powerful gun-rights group, suggested proponents of new measures had substantial work to do to build political support.

"We disagreed, obviously, on important issues,'' said James Baker, director of federal affairs for the NRA, who attended the meeting Thursday with Mr. Biden. In a written statement, the NRA said it was "disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment.''

Mr. Biden and other administration officials have met with a range of groups this week, among them medical associations, victims' rights and sportsmen's organizations, entertainment-industry trade groups and gun retailers, as part of an assignment from Mr. Obama to draw up a response to the school killings last month in Newtown, Conn.

Mr. Biden detailed some of his potential recommendations before a morning meeting with sportsmen's groups and others, saying they had arisen from his discussions so far and had broad support.

He didn't say in his public comments whether he would recommend an effort to revive the federal assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004. But Mr. Baker, the NRA official, said Mr. Biden all but threw his support behind a ban during the private meeting the NRA attended Thursday. The White House declined to comment on Mr. Baker's characterization of Mr. Biden's position.

In his public comments, Mr. Biden also said he had heard a "surprising recurrence'' of suggestions from groups he consulted that the nation require a background check for every gun purchase. Currently, checks are only needed for purchases from federally licensed dealers, in an effort to make sure that buyers aren't prohibited from owning a firearm.

Many proponents of tougher rules have called for closing what some call the "gun show loophole,'' which allows sales without background checks from private sellers who often do business at gun shows. Mr. Biden suggested that background checks be applied even more widely, to all private sales, wherever they occur. Gun-control advocates say that a substantial share of the nation's gun sales are excluded from the background-check requirement.

Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association Inc., said a number of areas of agreement emerged during the meeting attended by the NRA, especially on civil commitment laws for the mentally ill and increased penalties for gun trafficking. Mr. Feldman said he differed from many in the room by backing expanded background checks at gun shows. He said, however, he opposed requiring background checks on all gun sales.

The NRA said it opposes Mr. Biden's plan to expand background checks.

Depending on how they are crafted, most of Mr. Biden's potential recommendations would likely require legislation. Mr. Obama can take some steps without agreement from Congress, as he has executive authority to ban certain gun imports and strengthen some aspects of background checks.

"We can do a great deal without in any way imposing on and impinging on the rights of the Second Amendment," Mr. Biden said in public comments.
And at the New York Times, "Tough Path for Ban on Assault Guns Shifts Obama's Focus." (Via Memeorandum.)

PREVIOUSLY: "Leftists Push Gun Control Agenda 'Unmatched in Modern Times'."