On Thursday, the National Rifle Association attended a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss post-Newtown gun control efforts. The meeting did not go terribly well, with NRA President David Keene emerging to complain on CNN that the White House was merely “checking a box,” allowing them to claim they had “met with people that are strong Second Amendment supporters” before taking a hammer and chisel to the Second Amendment. For his part, the NRA president declared his organization’s firm opposition to bans on “high-capacity magazines” and “assault weapons.”
Keene did identify one area of “common ground” with the White House, namely increased efforts to keep guns away from the mentally ill. He thought progress could be made in this area by improving the databases used for background checks:
While this is a worthy measure, it should be noted that the Newtown murderer, Adam Lanza, did not purchase his guns; he stole them from his mother. Would stronger efforts to separate the mentally ill from guns include forbidding their family members from purchasing firearms?
Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive officer and executive vice-president of the NRA, issued a statement following the meeting:
The National Rifle Association of America is made up of over 4 million moms and dads, daughters and sons, who are involved in the national conversation about how to prevent a tragedy like Newtown from ever happening again. We attended today’s White House meeting to discuss how to keep our children safe and were prepared to have a meaningful conversation about school safety, mental health issues, the marketing of violence to our kids and the collapse of federal prosecutions of violent criminals.
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. 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. Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works ??? and what does not.
The NRA’s leverage in these discussions is increasing; the organization announced to Politico on Thursday that it had “gained more than 100,000 new members in the past 18 days,” and had a goal of adding at least 800,000 more before the current gun-control debate is over. Memebership costs $25, so a hundred thousand new members would give the organization increased financial clout as well, after subtracting the cost of the hundred thousand “Rosewood handled knives, black and gold duffel bags, or digital camo duffel bags” that were distributed as welcoming gifsts. It would be interesting to know if the NRA keeps track of how many new members do not actually own guns, but are joining as a matter of principle.