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Washington - Biden Butts Heads With NRA In Gun Violence Drive

Published on: January 10, 2013 04:46 PM
Last updated on: January 10, 2013 05:23 PM
By: Reuters
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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting on curbing gun violence at the White House in Washington January 10, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin LamarqueU.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting on curbing gun violence at the White House in Washington January 10, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Washington - Vice President Joe Biden butted heads with the powerful National Rifle Association on Thursday in his drive to reduce U.S. gun violence, drawing complaints from the lobby group that the White House is trying to limit constitutionally protected gun rights.

Biden sat down for about an hour and a half of talks with an NRA representative and officials from other gun owners’ groups after telling reporters he is likely to recommend background checks for all gun buyers and a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.

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“It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen,” the NRA said in a statement after the meeting.

Biden is heading a task force on reducing gun violence formed after a gunman shot dead 20 children and six adults last month at a Connecticut elementary school. Biden said he will make recommendations to President Barack Obama by next Tuesday.

The strong reaction by the NRA, a lobbying organization known for its influence with many lawmakers of both parties, illustrated the difficulty of changing gun laws in a country long accustomed to being able to purchase firearms under relatively loose regulations.

The U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms.

The Biden task force is trying to reach a consensus on a set of recommendations quickly while there is still a mood for action in Congress after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

Adding urgency to the gun debate, a student armed with a shotgun opened fire at a California high school on Thursday, critically wounding a fellow student before two adult staff members talked the boy into giving up his weapon.

Moving quickly for Washington, Biden plans to turn over recommendations to Obama after only a few weeks of work. Biden said there is only a “tight window” for action.

The Biden group is grappling with elements that go beyond gun control measures, also looking into aspects of American popular culture. Talks were expected later on Thursday with representatives of the movie industry, whose films routinely feature gun violence.

Before delivering its recommendations, the task force is also due to hear from the video game industry, whose products also contain frequent gun violence.

“There is nothing that has pricked the consciousness of the American people (and) there is nothing that has gone to the heart of the matter more than the image people have of little 6-year-old kids riddled - not shot, but riddled, riddled - with bullet holes in their classroom,” Biden said.

BACKGROUND CHECKS

Meeting hunting and outdoor groups earlier, Biden said two of his task force’s recommendations were likely to be universal background checks for gun purchasers and a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips like the ones used in the Connecticut massacre.

The background check requirement would extend to all gun purchasers. This would close the so-called “gun show loophole” in which vendors at open-air gun sales events can sell without a background check on the purchaser. It would also extend to private sales such as those conducted over the Internet.

The task force might also propose a ban on assault weapons like the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used by the gunman in Newtown.

“There’s an emerging set of recommendations not coming from me, but coming from the groups we’ve met with,” Biden said at a meeting with hunting and outdoor sports groups.

The vice president’s office had no substantive reaction to the NRA statement, which was issued less than an hour after the talks ended.

“We were 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,” the NRA said. “While claiming that no policy proposals would be ‘prejudged,’ this task force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners - honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans.”

The NRA proposed after the Newtown shootings that armed security officers be stationed at U.S. schools. The group vowed to take “our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of Congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works - and what does not.”

Attorney General Eric Holder held talks on Thursday with major retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the largest U.S. gun seller, as well as Bass Pro Shops and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Obama will review the Biden group’s ideas, decide which ones he wants to keep and then announce “a package of actions and proposals,” the White House said. Obama will seek legislative action by Congress but may also try to get some of his objectives done through presidential executive orders.

U.S. lawmakers have not approved a major new gun law since 1994. A U.S. assault weapons ban lapsed in 2004.

More than a hundred scientists from virtually every major U.S. university told Biden’s task force in a letter that research restrictions pushed by the NRA have stopped the United States from finding solutions to gun violence.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cut gun safety research by 96 percent since the mid-1990s, according to one estimate. Congress, pushed by the gun lobby, in 1996 put restrictions on CDC funding of gun research. Restrictions on other agencies were added in later years.

Biden said he would like federal agencies to have the ability to get information on what kind of weapons are used most to kill people and what kind of weapons are the most trafficked.

“I’m no great hunter - it’s mostly skeet shooting for me - I don’t quite understand why everybody would be afraid of whether or not we determine what is happening,” he said.

Some journalists were allowed in for part of Biden’s meeting with hunting groups such as Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. No such news coverage was arranged for the NRA meeting.


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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 10, 2013 at 06:33 PM Elchonon Says:

EXACTLY the problem, the 2nd is not about hunting, its to protect us from the government any one seeking to harm us

2

 Jan 10, 2013 at 07:51 PM pbalaw Says:

How about you disarm Iran?

3

 Jan 10, 2013 at 08:06 PM Texas_Eli Says:

You're more likely to be beaten to death than to be killed by any sort of rifle, and these idiots are stuck on 'assault rifles'
You're also something like 150 times more likely to be shot to death by the cos than killed in a school shooting....

4

 Jan 10, 2013 at 10:05 PM PaulinSaudi Says:

The nation demands something be done. If the NRA wishes to shape the decision on what is to be done, they should be welcomed to the table. If they insist we do nothing, we have no need to invite them to the meetings. We will decide what to do, do it and let them stamp their little feet.

5

 Jan 10, 2013 at 11:55 PM John Galt Says:

Reply to #4  
PaulinSaudi Says:

The nation demands something be done. If the NRA wishes to shape the decision on what is to be done, they should be welcomed to the table. If they insist we do nothing, we have no need to invite them to the meetings. We will decide what to do, do it and let them stamp their little feet.

They should be at the meetings as they represent the CONSTITUTION. They bring facts, statistics, and logic to the situation while everyone else "demands something to be done" emphasizing that the rest of the people are basing their decisions on emotion, rather than logic.

When you disarm the people, you only disarm the previously law-abiding people. If one wants to get an illegal weapon, it will always be possible since there is money in it (and money for the cartels who bring them in and sell them). Same as illegal drugs. Just because they are illegal doesn't make it impossible to obtain.

If one was to shoot several people, getting life without parole or a death sentence, would they care if there was another 10, 20, or more years tacked onto the sentence? They are already going to be spending life! How can you do more time than that??? Especially since most of these major crimes end with the perpetrator committing suicide or suicide-by-cop. They're dead- does another crime added to the toll mean anything?

Who is John Galt?

6

 Jan 11, 2013 at 12:07 AM Texas_Eli Says:

Reply to #4  
PaulinSaudi Says:

The nation demands something be done. If the NRA wishes to shape the decision on what is to be done, they should be welcomed to the table. If they insist we do nothing, we have no need to invite them to the meetings. We will decide what to do, do it and let them stamp their little feet.

THE PRESS demands something be done. THE LEFT demands something be done.
THE NATION is buying so many semi-automatic rifles that companies are back-ordered for over 2 years and over 100,000 people have joined the NRA.
Over THREE TIMES as many people have joined the NRA since Sandy Hook than were active member of the Brady Bunch before!

7

 Jan 11, 2013 at 11:32 AM bewhiskered Says:

Reply to #1  
Elchonon Says:

EXACTLY the problem, the 2nd is not about hunting, its to protect us from the government any one seeking to harm us

"its to protect us from the government any one seeking to harm us"

Just keep repeating those senseless arguments of the NRA- typical! So, tell me Sherlock, when is the last time historically, since the South seceded from the Union, that the US Federal government became tyrannical to the point where it wanted to harm its own citizens? And, if the government became tyrannical (like it ever would), are you going to fight against tanks, jet fighters, and nuclear weapons with your daddy's squirrel gun?

The NRA doesn't give a damn about the Second Amendment, but is only interested in making millions off the lunatics who need to buy Bushmasters and AR15's by the truckloads, even though the result is the pointless murdering of innocents. You of course, who are the perfect stooge for the NRA, don't have the mental capacity to realize any of this though. Your survivalist attitude is nothing more than a mask for compensating your erectile dysfunction with something that actually shoots!

8

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