As Vice President Joe Biden prepares his recommendations on gun control, which he said his task force would deliver to President Obama on Tuesday, both the administration and its toughest opponents seem convinced that a new assault weapons ban isn't in the cards. National Rifle Association President David Keene appeared on the Today show Friday morning and said he doesn't believe a new assault weapons ban will pass through Congress, an assessment that is apparently shared by the White House, at least according to The New York Times. A front page story in today's paper says the administration still plans to include the proposal in whatever package it offers up, but that it wants to make an assault weapons ban just one piece of a larger platform, to avoid the appearance of total failure when the ban is inevitably defeated. White House officials this morning insisted they were still pursuing the option, but Congress is Congress.
The Times story, by reporters Michael Shear and Peter Baker, suggest that Biden's plan will focus on more modest measures that enjoy wider support, like background checks and limits on bullet magazines. Perhaps the ban could become a big bargaining chip for the administration, something they eventually give up in order to get tougher restrictions in other areas. In another example of deal making, The Washington Post is also reporting that the Obama administration may offer funding to pay for more police officers in schools, an area that potentially offers room for a big compromise with the NRA. Here is Keene's interview with Matt Lauer from this morning:
The NRA essentially blew off its meeting with the Vice President yesterday, admitting that no progress was made and basically vowing to fight every proposal that was discussed. Despite the lack of actual negotiation, administration officials seem confident that they can still get through a broad package of new rules, but the NRA is determined to flex as much of its muscle as it can, refusing to back down at all from the stance that more are needed in American society, not less. Biden, along with Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, will meet this afternoon with leaders from the video-game industry as his task force's work continues ahead of Tuesday's proposal announcement.