Again, I'm still utterly baffled that the White House wants to have a national conversation on gun laws. I can't forsee this issue doing him any good at all in next year's election. Unless of course, Obama's is giving up on blue-collar and rural Democrats and just trying to shore up the base. In which case, he's in really bad shape.
In any event, NRA head Wayne LaPierre isn't about to give Obama the satisfaction:
The effort follows Mr. Obama’s call, in a column on Sunday in a Tucson newspaper, to put aside “stale policy debates” and begin “a new discussion” on ways to better enforce and strengthen existing laws to keep mentally unstable, violent and criminal people from getting guns.
But the National Rifle Association, for decades the most formidable force against proposals to limit gun sales or ownership, is refusing to join the discussion — possibly dooming it from the start, given the lobby’s clout with both parties in Congress. Administration officials had indicated they expected that the group would be represented at a meeting, perhaps on Friday.
“Why should I or the N.R.A. go sit down with a group of people that have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment in the United States?” said Wayne LaPierre, the longtime chief executive of the National Rifle Association.
He named Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has almost no role in gun-related policies, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
If only Eric Holder would enforce existing laws about brandishing weapons at polling places... And while the New York Times rightly points out that Hillary Clinton has little to do with gun policies as Secretary of State, that's not exactly helpful context and reads like a subtle dig at LaPierre.
She's still arguably the second most powerful Democrat in the country and has supported the Brady Bill, the assault weapons ban and, while running for Senate, she supported legislation that would require anyone who wants to buy a gun to get a state-issued photo gun license.
In fact, here's the New York Times story from 2000:
Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed a series of stringent gun-control measures yesterday, calling for the licensing of all new gun owners and the registration of new guns. Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic candidate for United States Senate, also warmly praised Gov. George E. Pataki, a Republican, for proposing a ''ballistic fingerprint'' database to help police investigators track down guns used in crimes.
In a speech to the Newspaper Association of America in Manhattan, Mrs. Clinton offered her support for the licensing and registration measure in advance of the Million Mom March in Washington on Sunday, a demonstration that is being staged in favor of what its organizers call ''common-sense gun control.''
''The moms who are marching in Washington this Sunday have it right: we have to license and register all handguns,'' said Mrs. Clinton, who plans to participate in the march.
LaPierre has pretty good reasons for singling Hillary out on this issue, and more generally, dissmissing the Obama administration's attempt to forge consensus on the issue
UPDATE: It's even worse than I thought. A colleague reminds me that Hillary Clinton has had a lot to do with shaping the current adminstration's gun policy and gun owners aren't happy about it. One incident you may recall was the government's refusal to allow vintage guns from being imported from Korea and sold to Americans:
The Obama administration approved the sale of the American-made rifles last year. But it reversed course and banned the sale in March – a decision that went largely unnoticed at the time but that is now sparking opposition from gun rights advocates.
A State Department spokesman said the administration’s decision was based on concerns that the guns could fall into the wrong hands.
“The transfer of such a large number of weapons — 87,310 M1 Garands and 770,160 M1 Carbines — could potentially be exploited by individuals seeking firearms for illicit purposes,” the spokesman told FoxNews.com.
“We are working closely with our Korean allies and the U.S. Army in exploring alternative options to dispose of these firearms.”
And in October of last year, Clinton backed an international arms control agreement that the Bush Administration had opposed because they said it eroded national laws:
The United States reversed policy on Wednesday and said it would back launching talks on a treaty to regulate arms sales as long as the talks operated by consensus, a stance critics said gave every nation a veto.
The decision, announced in a statement released by the U.S. State Department, overturns the position of former President George W. Bush's administration, which had opposed such a treaty on the grounds that national controls were better.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would support the talks as long as the negotiating forum, the so-called Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, "operates under the rules of consensus decision-making."
It's clear the Times is just regrettably misinformed.