By Dan Freedman
WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden’s search for consensus on countering gun violence in the wake of the Newtown school shootings drew stiff resistance from the National Rifle Association, which said Thursday’s meeting with gun groups was focused on “pushing failed solutions.”
The meeting was one of three Biden conducted Thursday with interest groups as head of President Barack Obama’s task force on guns.
Before the first meeting with outdoor sports and wildlife groups, Biden said he would deliver a set of policy recommendations to the president by Tuesday.
“This is a complicated issue,” Biden said. “There is no singular solution to how we deal with the crime that happened up in Newtown, or in Colorado, or gun violence that takes place in America today.”
Before the sports group meeting, Biden said that in previous sessions a “surprising” agreement had emerged on expanding background checks for all gun purchases, “not just ’close the gun show loophole,’ but totally universal background checks, including private sales.”
In the meantime, the mother of one of the children killed in last month’s massacre said she is disappointed she has not had an opportunity to be heard in the discussion over gun control in Washington.
Veronique Pozner’s 6-year-old son, Noah, was among 20 first-graders killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“As the mother of a 6-year-old victim of a cold-blooded massacre of schoolchildren, I am puzzled and disappointed by the fact that I have had no information or opportunity to be heard regarding the upcoming legislative proposal in Washington,” she said in a statement released by her brother.
There was no immediate response from the White House.
After its meeting with Biden, the NRA characterized the session as one-sided.
“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 statement said. “It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen.”
The NRA will take its case to lawmakers of both parties on Capitol Hill “who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works — and what does not,” the statement said.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence estimates that 60 percent of gun sales occur through federally licensed firearms dealers required under law to conduct background checks for purchases through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. But 40 percent are between private parties — some of them occurring at gun shows — that do not require checks.
One gun-rights advocate who attended the meeting, Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association, said that while Biden and the gun group representatives agreed on the need to keep guns out of the wrong hands, they disagreed on universal background checks.
“With me as an exception, everyone (from the gun groups) was opposed to changes in the current law as it exists today,” Feldman said, explaining that he favors background checks at gun shows when buyer and seller don’t know each other.
Gun control advocates say expanded background checks are an easy and effective way to keep guns out of criminal hands without compromising the rights of lawful gun owners.
“There is a common ground that respects the Second Amendment but makes it more difficult for dangerous people to get their hands on guns,” said Colin Goddard, a Brady Center advocate and survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre who attended one of Biden’s meetings Wednesday.
He pointed to a survey last year for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns by Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, that found 74 percent of NRA members and 87 percent of non-NRA gun owners support background checks for “anyone purchasing a gun.”
The NRA resisted background checks contained in the 1993 Brady bill but ultimately embraced them when NICS came into operation in 1998. The group did not respond to a query on its position on expanded checks for all purchases.
The two sides also strongly disagreed on high-capacity magazines, some of which can hold up to 100 rounds. Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, used these types of magazines on the Bushmaster AR-15 he used to kill 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary.
The 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, limited magazine capacity to 10 rounds. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said a similar ban will be part of an updated assault weapons ban she plans to introduce.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.