NRA says Congress won’t ban assault weapons
WASHINGTON -- The head of the National Rifle Assn. expressed confidence Sunday that the current Congress will not pass a new ban on assault weapons, a major aim of gun-control proponents in the wake of last month’s killing of 20 schoolchildren in Connecticut.
“I would say that the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get assault weapons ban through this Congress,” NRA President David Keene said on CNN’s “State Of The Union.”
Keene’s comments come two days before Vice President Joe Biden is expected to issue a series of recommendations to President Obama on reducing gun violence, and as gun stores in many areas report a dramatic spike in sales.
Biden’s focus has been on requiring universal background checks for gun sales and on limiting sales of high-capacity ammunition clips, two areas that appear to have widespread public support.
But administration officials have indicated that a ban on assault weapons could be included in an overall package of proposals. Obama has endorsed renewing such a ban, which was passed by Congress in 1994 but expired a decade later.
Congress is exhibiting new energy to restrict production and sales of certain firearms, with some pro-gun members speaking out for the first time against the spread of assault weapons.
But it’s far from clear if there’s enough support, particularly among Republicans, to approve a broad ban on such type of military-style guns.
“I think we have the possibility, but it’s going to be difficult,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on CNN. He said prospects were better for Congress to push through restrictions on high-capacity magazines and expanded background checks.
Biden met with NRA officials last week as part of his efforts to reach out to all sides on the issue, but Keene described the meeting as disingenuous, saying that the administration had already made up its mind.
Keene insisted that new measures on assault weapons, as well as on high-volume magazines, would be ineffective in preventing gun violence, arguing instead that the focus should be on mentally ill people and curbing their ability to acquire guns.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Sunday sharply disagreed with Keene’s assessment that the current Congress would not take action on assault weapons.
“No, I think he’s wrong,” Murphy said on CNN. Saying that he believed such a ban would have prevented the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Murphy said: “Newtown fundamentally changed things. The NRA doesn’t get this.”