NRA Vows to Defend Gun Rights After Biden Meeting
The nation's largest gun-rights lobby said Thursday its meeting at the White House with Vice President Joe Biden was more about demonizing the Second Amendment than about keeping students safe.
The National Rifle Association said the participants spent most their time on proposals to limit gun rights.
"We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen," the group said in a statement at the end of a 95-minute meeting.
The politically powerful group -- under public pressure since December's school shooting in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman massacred 20 children and six women -- said it will now work with Congress to discuss what works in preventing violence and what does not.
The NRA previously proposed armed security in every American school.
Earlier Thursday, Biden said his task force on ways to reduce gun violence is looking at an emerging set of recommendations and he will hand them over to President Barack Obama by Tuesday.
Biden, at a meeting of hunting and outdoor sport groups, said two recommendations were likely to be an appeal for universal background checks for gun purchasers and a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.
Biden said only a "tight window" exists for action and that he will hand over his recommendations by Tuesday to Obama.
At the White House meeting, Biden told the group he has "never quite heard so much talk about high-capacity magazines" as he has since last month's horrific mass shooting in Newtown.
Obama, spurred by the massacre., appointed Biden to lead the task force, setting a late January deadline for the group's recommendations, which he pledged to act on swiftly.
The vice president said Thursday that while no recommendations would eliminate all future mass shootings, "there has got to be some common ground, to not solve every problem but diminish the probability."
The NRA, the nation's largest gun-rights group, has blocked gun-control efforts in the past and is opposing any new ones. In the wake of the Newtown shooting, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre rejected efforts to tighten gun laws and instead recommended putting armed guards in all schools as a way to stop another school shooting.
White House officials recognize it is unlikely the NRA will ever fully support measures Obama is pushing, including an assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines. But the administration may need to soften the NRA's opposition if it hopes to rally support from pro-gun lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Wal-Mart, the nation's largest firearms seller, will meet separately with Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday along with other retailers such as Bass Pro Shops and Dick's Sporting Goods.
Biden has also said the administration is weighing executive action in addition to recommending legislation by Congress. Those steps could include making gun-trafficking a felony, getting the Justice Department to prosecute people caught lying on gun background-check forms and ordering federal agencies to send data to the National Gun Background Check Database.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says that about 40 percent of gun sales are made without background checks, often at gun shows and over the Internet.
Representatives from the Brady Campaign joined other victims' groups and gun safety organizations for meetings with Biden on Wednesday. The vice president said the steps the administration is considering could "take thousands of people out of harm's way" and improve the safety of millions more.
"I want to make it clear that we are not going to get caught up in the notion that unless we can do everything, we're going to do nothing," Biden said. "It's critically important we act."
The Newtown shootings pushed gun control to the top of Obama's domestic agenda for the first time during his presidency. He was largely silent on the hot-button political issue after the 2011 shootings in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six people and wounded 12 others, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and the Colorado movie theater killing of a dozen people and wounding of many more last July.
The president hopes to announce his administration's next steps to tackle gun violence shortly after he is sworn in for a second term and has pledged to push for new measures in his State of the Union address.