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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NYTimes: NRA Says No to DOJ Gun Policy Meeting

The New York Times reports this morning that the administration is calling together stakeholders from both the pro-rights and gun ban lobby to discuss how to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and "others who should not have them" but that NRA will not participate, likely dooming anything that may come out of the meetings.
On Tuesday, officials at the Justice Department will meet with gun control advocates in the first of what will be a series of meetings over the next two weeks with people on different sides of the issue, including law enforcement, retailers and manufacturers, to seek agreement on possible legislative or administrative actions.

The effort follows Mr. Obama’s call, in a column on Sunday in a Tucson newspaper, to put aside “stale policy debates” and begin “a new discussion” on ways to better enforce and strengthen existing laws to keep mentally unstable, violent and criminal people from getting guns.
As is usually the case, President Obama has no plans to take the lead in proposing further gun control legislation, instead choosing to leave the heavy liftting to others.  It is understandable why NRA wants no part of doing Obama's job for him.
“Why should I or the N.R.A. go sit down with a group of people that have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment in the United States?” said Wayne LaPierre, the longtime chief executive of the National Rifle Association.
First up for the meetings are the gun ban lobby.  No doubt they will recommend that the administration push renewal of the so-called "assault weapons ban" and closing the non-existant "gun show loophole."   Also scheduled to attend separate meetings are pro-rights groups, retailers, and law enforcement.  It is unknown whether other pro-rights groups other than the NRA were invited, but even if they were, NRA carries the clout on Capitol Hill so if they do not attend, it is unlikely anything will come of the meetings.

It is clear from Obama's Op/Ed  that his focus, without naming a specific solution, is background checks.  While happy that the President finally chose to address the issue, the gun ban lobby is not exactly thrilled with the mechanism.

The (Brady) campaign's president, Paul Helmke, said he was encouraged by Obama's op-ed article, which he said contained the strongest words on gun control from the White House in over a decade. But he said he was "a little surprised" that Obama didn't mention the assault-weapons ban.

He added, "An op-ed alone's not going to do it, and we're hoping the president is going to show some leadership on this."
We shall see what if anything comes of these meetings, or if it is nothing more than positioning for the coming 2012 election.

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