Not yet a day after President Obama got emotional in Connecticut but refused to name the most powerful arm of "the gun lobby" that is bending back the administration's legislative push, Vice President Joe Biden spared no words in describing the political tactics of the National Rifle Association in a speech to law enforcement officials at the White House Tuesday afternoon. Biden called out Senators for filibustering a deal as that filibuster talk cooled, but he got loud — at least compared to his boss — when it came to the NRA, whose bizarre commercials and lobbying effort on Capitol Hill the vice president called "campaign of disinformation." It was a new tactic for the Obama administration, with the president continuing to studiously avoided mentioning the letters N, R, and A — even if they are not alone.
A visibly emotional Biden indulged no such circumspection, comparing the most vehement opponents of expanded background checks, which 92% of Americans support, to conspiracy theorists. "The black helicopter crowd is really upset," Biden said, taking on a kind of faux voice in describing fears about background checks — "It's kind of scary, man," he said.
Biden first addressed the notion that background checks don't work — "two million have gone through a background check to buy a gun and been rejected ... because they're incompetent to own a weapon," he said — before addressing well-trafficked fears that more rigorous background checks would require establishing some sort of a federal registry of gun owners. Biden explained that background checks, when performed, approve or deny the would-be seller without providing any details about the decision; and that the FBI is required to destroy the information used to perform the check. "There is no record kept in some big database," Biden said, adding, "They don't even know if you actually purchased the gun. ... [There's] no way for Uncle Sam to know if you own a gun.""
Though clearly frustrated, Biden also addressed gun owners directly, repeating the administration's united appeal to Second Amendment supporters, and he seemed hopeful that his speech would placate people worried by the White House's ongoing push to secure legislation addressing gun violence. "We are going to win this fight. This is not going away," he said. "The American public will not stand for it."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has set a deadline for 5 p.m. Tuesday on coming to a major compromise in the Senate on background checks.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.