White House talks don't include NRA: gun group president

WASHINGTON Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:45pm EST

David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), leads a moment of silence for victims of the December 14 Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, before a news conference in Washington December 21, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), leads a moment of silence for victims of the December 14 Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, before a news conference in Washington December 21, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An effort led by Vice President Joe Biden to find ways to reduce gun violence after the Connecticut school massacre so far has not included talking to the National Rifle Association, the president of the gun rights group said on Friday.

NRA President David Keene said neither Biden nor his staff has contacted the organization since President Barack Obama unveiled the effort on December 19.

Keene said he was not surprised, given Biden's past support for new gun control laws. "He's not even a friendly antagonist," Keene told Reuters in an interview.

The lack of communication between the White House and the largest U.S. lobbying group for gun owners is a sign that the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, has so far failed to change long-held stances on gun politics. In that tragedy, a young man shot his mother with her own gun before killing 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Biden and up to four Cabinet officers are holding a series of meetings with outside groups to discuss possible gun legislation. The first was with law enforcement officials, another with mayors.

The White House has said other meetings will take place with gun safety groups and gun owners, among others, but it has not said whether the NRA will be invited. The White House had no comment on Friday.

Asked about the organization's influence, Obama struck an optimistic note on Dec 19. "The NRA is an organization that has members who are mothers and fathers," he said. "I would expect that they've been impacted by this as well, and hopefully, they'll do some self-reflection."

Two days later, NRA executive Wayne LaPierre said at a press conference that new gun laws were not the answer, calling instead for some form of armed guards in every school.

Keene told Reuters: "I'm willing to talk to anybody. I'm willing to sit down with anybody up there." He added, though, that he would not agree to "gut" gun rights.

"I'm going to want to have a conversation about how we protect our children," he said. "That's a serious conversation. Offering sort of feel-good bills doesn't strike me as serious."

Biden's group is due to offer its recommendations in January.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Thursday found that support remains high for preserving specific gun ownership privileges, such as concealed-weapon permits, as well as for some restrictions, such as background checks for every purchase.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Gunna Dickson)

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Comments (8)
GeorgeDutton wrote:
To me its real funny how the media and politicians are against armed guards at schools considering Obamas kids has 11 extremely armed guards at the school they attend.

Dec 28, 2012 6:17pm EST  --  Report as abuse
cyunvwyatt1 wrote:
We the people are irrelivant, Our Supreme Leaders are going to tell us what we are to do for they are our supreme rulers of this America.

Dec 28, 2012 6:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
revamadison wrote:
I hope that the NRA will get some say in this, the last meeting before final decisions are made. After all, they are the largest civilian group of gun owners, probably in the whole world, and in the past have done some excellent things for owners and legal users of guns. The problem has been there long-term refusal to realize and understand that there are rules and regulations that must be put in place, and that the second amendment doesn’t say any and every person may own and bear just any weapon that themselves decides it means. The NRA leadership has got to stop insisting that their way is the only way. I believe the membership understands this, but has been bullied into support of the organizations rampant right wing, with downright lies and stretching of truth. Do they really think that just putting an armed guard in every school is going to solve all the problems? If so, they need to resign and go live in their tunnels with their stock of guns, ammo, water, and food. Let the moderates take back the organization they built in the 50s and 60s. Then I, and a multitude of others might say they represent me again.

Dec 28, 2012 7:05pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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