WASHINGTON Dec 28 An effort led by U.S. 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 Dec. 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
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.