NRA accepts White House invite

Jan. 8, 2013 at 8:44 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The National Rifle Association is one of many groups the president's task force on gun violence is meeting with this week, a White House spokesman said Tuesday.

With more attention falling on gun control measures such as the assault rifle ban and high-capacity magazines, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked at his daily briefing if the issue of cultural factors, such as violent video games and movies, has dropped in priority as the administration formulates a package of responses to the nation's gun violence problem.

"No, if that has been conveyed, it should not have been," Carney said. "In fact, I should note that I can tell you that this week the vice president [Joe Biden] will be meeting on Wednesday with victims groups as well as gun safety organizations; on Thursday with advocates for sportsmen and women, and then separately with gun ownership groups.

"This week he will also meet -- his group will also meet with representatives of the entertainment and video game industries.

"Also, [Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan will meet with representatives from parent, teacher, and education groups. [Health and Human Services] Secretary [Kathleen] Sebelius will meet with mental health and disability advocates. And senior White House staff have also held and will continue to hold meetings with a variety of stakeholders, including medical groups, community organizations, child and family advocates, business owners, faith leaders and others."

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said his organization accepted a White House invitation received Friday.

Biden is leading the task force President Obama formed in response to a young gunman killing 27 people, including 20 children and his mother, in Newtown, Conn., in December, and charged with making recommendations to prevent further incidents.

It's been reported this week the White House is considering a broad approach on gun control, possibly including a universal background checks for gun buyers and a national database to track the movement and sale of weapons, in addition to outlawing assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

"The vice president, at the president's request, is overseeing a process that is engaging a variety of stakeholders -- organizations and individuals -- to look broadly at the problem of gun violence in America and to consider actions that could be taken at both the legislative level and elsewhere," Carney said.

"... I think as the president said, he doesn't want to prejudge any recommendations that any stakeholder might present. He did in his 'Meet the Press' interview [aired Sunday] respond to a question about the specific recommendation that the NRA had made by saying that he was skeptical that putting more guns in schools would solve this problem. But again, we look forward to hearing from a variety of organizations and civic groups and others who have insights into this problem.

"And the vice president's group will assess different actions, make recommendations, and the president will decide what he would like to pursue, what he believes is the right course of action, in addition to what he has already called on Congress to do, which is pass the assault weapons ban, pass legislation that would ban high-capacity magazines, pass a bill that would close loopholes in our background check system. Those are things that Congress could move on very quickly, and the president urges them to do so."

Carney said while Obama "is mindful of the need to act," but that action must be based after considering "a variety of ideas."

Gun violence, he said, "is not a problem that can be solved by any specific action or single action that the government might take. It's a problem that encompasses issues of mental health, of education, as well as access to guns."

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