Biden to Meet with NRA, Walmart on Day Two of Gun Talks
(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Joe Biden will start day two of this week’s meetings on gun violence on Thursday, and the participants in the latest round of talks will include two powerhouses in the gun industry — the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Walmart, one of the largest sellers of firearms in the country.
Spokesmen for the NRA and Walmart confirmed representatives from their organizations will be included in the meetings Thursday. Advocates for sportsmen, women’s groups, wildlife groups and gun owners will also be there. The vice president is slated to meet with members of the entertainment industry in the evening.
James J. Baker, the NRA’s top lobbyist, will attend the meeting on behalf of the organization. The NRA called for armed officers to be placed in every school after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December.
“We are sending a representative to hear what they have to say,” Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the NRA, said.
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 advocate groups and victims and survivors 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. He suggested the administration would be ready to take executive action on the issue, which would not require help from Congress.
“We’re here today to deal with a problem that requires our immediate action, urgent action. And the president and I are determined to take action,” Biden told reporters Wednesday before a meeting in his ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. “I want to make it clear that we are not going to get caught up in the notion [that] unless we can do everything, we’re going to do nothing.”
“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.
Biden also held conference calls with 15 governors and 16 state and local elected officials on Wednesday.
Shortly after the shootings in which 26 children and educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School 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 on Wednesday.
Biden’s group is required to submit recommendations to the president by the end of the month.
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