May 25, 2013
Biden draws NRA ire in drive against gun violence
Vice President Joe Biden butted heads with the powerful National Rifle Association today in his drive to reduce US 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.
"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 US 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.
"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.
Attorney General Eric Holder also held talks today with major retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the largest US gun seller, as well as Bass Pro Shops and Dick's Sporting Goods.
The Biden task force is grappling with elements that go beyond gun control measures, also looking into aspects of US popular culture.
The group held talks today with representatives of the movie industry and will also hear on Friday from the video game business. Both industries routinely feature gun violence.