Obama, NRA clash over gun control (+video)
Flanked by schoolchildren and reading from their letters, President Obama announced measures he plans to take to prevent gun violence on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, the NRA began an ad campaign against gun control.
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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a staunch gun control advocate, said tighter controls were needed no matter what.Skip to next paragraph
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"No piece of legislation is perfect and no piece of legislation is 100 percent effective. Think of it like a speeding limit. You may every once in a while violate the speeding limit, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have speeding limits - they protect people's lives," he told reporters.
At the firearm industry's largest trade show in Las Vegas, Gary Svecko - adding a Glock 17 pistol to his gun collection - dismissed Obama's bid to ban assault weapons purchases and blamed video games for inciting violence.
"You know the old saying, 'Guns don't kill people. People kill people'," Svecko, 58, said, citing a common argument of gun enthusiasts. "I think they should ban those stupid video games."
Shares of gun manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger, rose more than 5 percent after Obama unveiled his proposals. Since Newtown, FBI background checks required for gun purchases have soared, indicating more people are trying to buy weapons, likely out of concern that new restrictions may be imposed.
Controversial NRA ad campaign
Underscoring the tough political battle ahead, the NRA launched an advertising campaign against Obama's gun control effort and deployed its lobbyists in force on Capitol Hill.
The NRA, in a TV and Internet spot, accused Obama of being "just another elitist hypocrite" for accepting Secret Service protection for his young daughters but turning down the lobby group's proposal to put armed guards in all schools.
"Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy," the group said in response to Obama's proposals.
Administration officials sketched out legislative goals in a conference call with reporters but offered no draft legislation or any clear explanation of how they would overcome the hurdles. They said the list of executive actions would cost $500 million in the federal budget for the 2014 fiscal year.
With gun ownership rights enshrined in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, gun restrictions have long been a divisive - and risky - issue in American politics.
But polls show public sentiment shifted in favor of tighter gun control fueled by outrage after Newtown, and Obama hopes to take advantage while there is a mood for action in Washington. The pattern after shooting tragedies is that memories of the events soon fade, making it hard to sustain a push for policy changes.
Obama acknowledged the political challenges but made clear he is prepared to take on the NRA, despite its support among Republicans and significant backing among Democrats.
He warned that opponents of his effort would try to "gin up fear" and urged lawmakers to put children's safety above getting an 'A' grade from the gun lobby that supports their campaign."
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, was noncommittal. "House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations. And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that," he said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a pro-gun-rights Democrat from Nevada, also responded cautiously, saying "all options should be on the table" to reduce gun violence.
Obama's initiative treads carefully on whether violent movies and video games contribute to gun violence. An administration official said, however, that Obama would seek $10 million to fund studies of the causes of gun violence, including any relationship to video games and media images.
Wednesday's proposals stem from a monthlong review led by Vice President Joe Biden, who met advocates on both sides, including officials from the arms and entertainment industries.
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