Powerful US gun lobby hoping to avoid ban on assault weapons

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The top US gun lobby yesterday rejected Obama administration proposals to reduce gun violence, saying it expects to have enough support in Congress to fend off a ban on assault weapons.

President Barack Obama has pushed reducing gun violence to the top of his domestic agenda following last month’s shooting of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut school with a legally purchased high-powered rifle.

Vice President Joe Biden leads a task force on policy proposals and has promised to send ideas to Mr Obama by Tuesday.

Mr Obama hopes to announce the next steps after he is sworn in for a second term later this month. Mr Biden’s meetings with various interest groups continued yesterday at the White House.

The National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups met Mr Biden on Thursday and the NRA emerged with its objections to any gun restrictions intact. The group wants to have an armed security officer in every school in the country instead.

“I do not think that there’s going to be a ban on so-called assault weapons passed by the Congress,” NRA president David Keene told NBC. Mr Keene said there was a fundamental disagreement over what would actually make a difference in curbing gun violence.

A ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines and stricter background checks on gun buyers have also been proposed.

The powerful NRA’s opposition underscores the challenges that await the White House if it seeks congressional approval for limiting guns and ammunition. Mr Obama can use his executive powers to act alone on some gun measures, but his options on the proposals opposed by the NRA are limited without Congress’s co-operation.