Published January 10, 2013
The National Rifle Association emerged from a meeting Thursday with Vice President Biden and accused his gun violence task force of leading an "attack" on the Second Amendment -- just hours after Biden gave a glimpse into the gun-control recommendations expected to hit the president's desk in a matter of days.
The vice president said earlier that "an emerging set of recommendations" focuses on launching "universal" background checks, restricting high-capacity magazines and allowing federal agencies to do more research on gun violence.
He revealed where the task force was headed a day after drawing outrage from Republican lawmakers by saying the administration might use "executive orders" to implement some policies. He said he plans to have the recommendations, which are not yet final, to President Obama by Tuesday.
But the NRA, after sitting down with Biden and other firearms groups Thursday afternoon, blasted the effort as primarily focused on restricting gun rights.
"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 group said in a written statement. "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.
"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."
Aside from the NRA, Biden also met Thursday with sports groups like the Outdoor Industry Association and firearms groups like the National Association of Arms Shows. Attorney General Eric Holder and other Obama Cabinet secretaries were meeting as well with Walmart and several other sports retailers.
Biden said the list of possible recommendations so far includes a call for "universal background checks." He said this would include not just closing the so-called gun show loophole but imposing background checks for all transactions, including private sales.
He also said, "I've never heard quite as much about the need to do something about high-capacity magazines as I've heard spontaneously from every group that we've met with so far."
Biden planned to round out the day with a meeting Thursday evening with entertainment industry representatives. On Friday, he plans to meet representatives from the video game industry.
Still, much of the discussion, and proposals from Democratic members of Congress, continue to center around gun control.
Biden drew complaints from Republican lawmakers when he suggested Wednesday, while meeting with gun control groups, that the administration might go around Congress to implement some provisions.
"There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken," Biden said. He also said separate legislative action would be "required."
"Vice President Biden would do well to read the 2nd Amendment and revisit the meaning of the phrase 'shall not be infringed,'" Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said in a statement. "Bypassing Congress to implement radical policies is never acceptable."
The White House and the NRA have found little common ground as the two groups craft separate responses to the tragedy.
The NRA, after staying silent for several days after the Connecticut school massacre, eventually called for a national school security plan to install armed officers at every school in the country. The White House, though, has suggested that plan would not be effective.
But the NRA and other firearms group say the same about proposed restrictions on certain weapons types, noting that assault weapons are not often used in the commission of violent crimes -- handguns are more common.
The Washington Post reported over the weekend that Obama was considering measures beyond reinstating a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. According to the paper, the task force was considering measures like universal background checks for gun buyers, a national gun database, strengthening mental health checks and tougher penalties for people carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.
Gun-advocacy groups, including Arizona for Gun Safety, the Brady Campaign, the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, attended a meeting with Biden Wednesday.
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, after the meeting affirmed that administration officials "talked about ... their willingness to use executive action where that's appropriate."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.