(WASHINGTON) — The National Rifle Association blasted Vice President Joe Biden after a meeting Thursday afternoon with gun ownership groups, arguing that the talks did not produce legitimate ideas about how to curb gun violence but instead went after the Second Amendment.
“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 NRA said in a 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,” the NRA said. “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.”
Biden, whose office released a photo of the vice president meeting with gun ownership groups Thursday, told reporters earlier in the day that he has already started putting together a list of gun-control recommendations that he plans to issue next Tuesday.
He has suggested the administration would be ready to take executive action on the issue, which would not require votes from Congress. That prospect has raised alarm bells for gun rights advocates.
Biden told reporters Thursday, during a meeting a with sportsmen, women and wildlife groups, that he would deliver the list of recommendations to the president on Jan. 15, and that an improved system for background checks has emerged as a a priority for the stakeholders he’s met so far. Guns have been at the top of the White House agenda since the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“I am putting together a series of recommendations for the president that will, that he will take a look at. There’s a real, very tight window to do this,” Biden said. “I committed to him I’d have these recommendations to him by Tuesday. And it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the discussion, but the public wants us to act.”
Biden said he has not reached any conclusions just yet but recounted the recommendations that have been made to him from the various stakeholders he’s met with over the past month. The vice president said a consensus emerged from the meetings on the need to strengthen the background check system.
“So far, a surprising recurrence of suggestions that we have universal background checks, not just close the gun show loophole, but total, universal background checks, even including private sales,” Biden said.
Other suggestions offered at the meetings have centered on gun safety and the responsibility that goes along with gun ownership, dealing with high-capacity magazines, and the ability of federal agencies to do research on gun violence.
Biden sat down with representatives of the NRA and other supporters of gun rights on the second day of this week’s meetings on gun violence.
He said at one meeting that he has “never quite heard so much talk about high-capacity magazines” as he has since the shootings in Newtown.
Biden met with gun-violence victims’ groups and proponents of gun control on Wednesday. Thursday was his opportunity to get a different side of the story. Biden met with the National Rifle Association and Attorney General Eric Holder met with representatives from Walmart, one of the largest sellers of firearms in the country.
“There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken. We haven’t decided what that is yet, but we’re compiling it all with the help the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members, as well as legislative action, we believe, is required,” Biden said.
In addition to the NRA, sportsmen’s groups, women’s groups, wildlife groups and representatives of the entertainment industry were invited to meetings with Biden.
In December, the NRA called for armed officers to be placed in every school after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Walmart initially turned down an invitation to participate in the talks but reversed its decision after it “underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person,” a spokesman said.
“We take this issue very seriously and are committed staying engaged in this discussion as the administration and Congress work toward a consensus on the right path forward,” David Tovar, vice president of corporate communications for Walmart, said.
The latest meetings come one day after Biden held a first round of talks this week with gun safety advocacy groups and victims of gun violence. Speaking to reporters before the meeting, the vice president expressed the administration’s commitment to develop effective gun policy by considering all ideas.
Biden also held conference calls with 15 governors and 16 state and local elected officials Wednesday.
Shortly after the shootings in which 26 children and educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary last month, President Obama assigned Biden to head a task force and offer suggestions on curbing gun violence.
“Every once in a while there’s something that awakens the conscience of the country, and that tragic event did in a way like nothing I’ve seen in my career,” Biden said Wednesday.
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