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Feb 202013
 

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) — The White House Wednesday defended Vice President Joe Biden’s provocative suggestions that those concerned about an intruder in their home should “get a double-barrel shotgun” and “fire two blasts outside the house.”

“This president and this vice president, this administration firmly supports our Second Amendment rights, upheld by the Constitution, and that includes the right of homeowners, law-abiding American citizens, to have a firearm at their home to protect themselves in their home,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

During a Facebook Town Hall Tuesday, Biden told a questioner she’d be better off with a shotgun than an AR-15.  A shotgun is what Biden said he recommended to his own wife.

When pressed by Karl about whether the president agrees with Biden’s self-defense advice, Carney said the president did.

“I think the president does agree with the vice president that homeowners who are interested in utilizing their Second Amendment rights to own a firearm to protect themselves in their home, and their families in their home do not need a military-style assault weapon and that a shotgun would be a logical choice,” Carney said.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jan 132013
 

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Still days away from any announcement of the White House’s proposals for addressing gun violence — and less than one month since a mass shooting claimed the lives of 27 people, including 20 first graders, in Newtown, Conn. — Americans are lining up around the block to buy guns.

And though gun control advocates say this is an “opportune moment” to enact stricter gun controls, the National Rifle Association is vowing to fight what it calls “a real threat to Second Amendment rights.”

As ABC News first reported, December saw an unprecedented spike in background checks. A record 2.78 million registered for background checks last month, compared with 1.86 million in December 2011. Guns have disappeared from store walls, with buyers aware that the Obama administration wants changes.

Proposed changes could affect not only gun laws, but also mental health spending and current policies on violent movies and video games.

“This is an unusually opportune moment for the president to advance a policy goal like gun control, if he is of a mind to do it, even if Congress is resistant,” gun expert and State University of New York Cortland political science professor Robert Spitzer said.

Vice President Joe Biden met with law enforcement, at-risk youth advocacy communities, national service organizations, the mental health community, interfaith groups, the entertainment industry, and gun owners themselves this week to get a variety of perspectives on gun violence issues.

In a meeting with representatives from the video game industry, including members of Electronic Arts, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, and Activision Blizzard, Inc., the makers of the highly popular “Call of Duty” games, Biden said he asked for help.

“We’re anxious to see if there’s anything you can suggest to us that you think would be — would help, as this president said, diminish the possibility, even if it only saved one kid’s life,” the vice president said Friday.

The makers of video games cite research that finds no connection between violent video games and violent crime.

“There is no evidence that suggest that exposure to violent video games is associated with violent criminal behavior,” said Dr. Christopher Ferguson, professor of psychology at Texas A&M International University.

But Dr. Victor Strasburger, chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and pediatrics professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, said today’s video games are more real, more intense than anything that’s come before.

“Kids spend an incredible amount of time with the media. They see increasingly violent media,” he said. “Why in this country would we spend $250 billion a year on advertising if we didn’t think advertising affected people?”

Biden is expected to provide three major recommendations on the future of gun control.

Among the recommendations could be reinstituting the assault rifle ban. A ban was passed in 1994 as part of a crime bill, but expired 10 years later with its effectiveness still highly debated.

Universal background checks are also expected to be recommended. Currently, background checks are only conducted when a gun is purchased at a retailer. Universal background check would extend to any private sale of a gun, eliminating the loophole of gun shows.

Biden may also recommend limiting magazine clips, possibly banning high-capacity clips and restricting gun users to 10 rounds of ammunition, sparking what some call a “war on ammo.”

The NRA, the most powerful gun lobby, is prepared for battle, vowing to fight any proposed changes to current gun legislation to protect gun owners’ rights.

“I think that’s a real threat to their Second Amendment rights, and we intend to do all we can to protect them,” NRA president David Keene said.

Gun control advocates hope that President Obama, fresh off his reelection victory, will be able to tap into the nation’s outrage over the murder of 20 first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School to get changes through Congress.

Spitzer said he is not sure whether that momentum will be enough.

“I think the likelihood that Congress will enact a sweeping set of gun control now is unlikely, but I think it’s possible, because the conditions exist right now that are very similar to conditions that existed in the past when Congress did enact stronger gun laws,” Spitzer said.

Biden is expected to make his recommendations Tuesday, and he has suggested that the president may be able to make some changes on his own using executive orders.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sep 302012
 

Scott Olson/Getty Images(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Paul Ryan warned a group of hunters and fishermen Saturday evening that he “shudder(s)” to think what President Obama would do “if he never has to face the voters ever again.”

“You see the federal government is already infringing upon the First Amendment right to religious liberty,” Ryan said, referring to the federal mandate that all employers include insurance coverage for birth control.

“I see the president put these kind of regulations out there in a tough election year that could cost him votes. I wonder, I shudder as a gun owner, seeing his record when he was in the Illinois State Senate, what would he do if he never has to face the voters ever again?” Ryan said. “These are the kinds of questions we think about.

“The next president will appoint a lot of different judges and these are lifetime appointments,” he said. “If you want to make sure that judges respect our Second Amendment rights, you need a president who respects those rights as well.”

Speaking at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Annual “Save Our Heritage” banquet, the GOP vice presidential nominee stressed that his ticket would “respect the Second Amendment.”

Ryan is an avid hunter and an accomplished bow hunter and this state’s season for bow hunting kicked off today. He was welcomed into the group of fellow sportsmen with a gift of a 20 gauge shot gun.

Ryan grabbed the gun and held it, but then gave it back citing congressional ethics rules. He donated it to the silent auction, which already had a hunting hog decoy, South African safari, and Alaska fishing trip up for grabs.

He told the group to “remember one thing: we are all taxpayers.”

“That means we as taxpayers own our public land,” Ryan said. “Hunters are the original conservationists. Bureaucrats more and more these days think that public lands have to be protected from hunters. I myself see it another way; I think hunters need to be protected by the bureaucrats.”

The House Budget chairman was clearly comfortable talking to the group, mentioning that he takes his family hunting and telling the crowd that his 10-year-old daughter, Liza — for whom he bought a hunting outfit last week — would begin hunting this year.

To cheers from the crowd, he warned the audience “to remember…there are people, some of whom work in the federal government, that don’t believe in open access to our public lands, who don’t agree with this heritage” and the “right to keep and bear arms” is an “individual right.”

While Ryan is an avid hunter and the former chair of the sportsmen caucus in the House of Representatives, his running mate is not. Mitt Romney was widely ridiculed in his last presidential campaign when he originally called himself a “lifelong hunter,” but then in April of 2007 admitted he wasn’t “a big game hunter.”

“I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter,” Romney said. “Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then.”

But, before Ryan took to the stage, Rob Keck, a supporter and director of conservation at Bass Pro Shops as well as the host of a television outdoors show, sung Romney’s praises as a leader, giving him a strong endorsement and pitching him to the audience, but also as a hunter, while still admitting that “Mitt did not grow up hunting.”

“A year ago I had the opportunity to share three days of elk and pheasant hunting with Governor Romney,” Keck told the audience while photos of that hunt flashed on screens above the stage. “Well let me tell you, Mitt’s a fun guy in camp, and he’s a fun guy out in the field. But more importantly, what I experienced was that he was tough, rugged, decisive and has a clear mind and vision and shares the same strong family and God-fearing values of life that I do and I think many of you do.

“Admittedly, Mitt did not grow up hunting. He doesn’t claim to be an avid hunter,” Keck said. “But I can tell you in those days that I spent with him in a hunting camp, and believe me as I’m sure you know you get to know an awful lot about a person when you get time in the field and in a camp, he doesn’t claim anything more than he understands hunting and angling’s economic and political engine — that powers America — and I might mention he’s one heck of a shot on ring-neck pheasants, too.”

During Romney’s primary campaign he said he did ”not believe in new laws restricting gun ownership and gun use.” But, as governor of Massachusetts, he signed into law the first state ban on assault weapons in 2004, just as the federal version was about to lapse. Although some gun right activists are critical of the move, Romney did have the support of some gun rights groups when he signed the legislation.

Ryan heads back to the East Coast Saturday night ahead of a full day of fundraisers in Connecticut on Sunday. He is scheduled to continue fundraising in New York City Monday before traveling to Iowa for a two-day bus tour.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Jul 302012
 

Paul Morigi/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Is private possession of hand-held rocket launchers protected by the Second Amendment?

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Sunday that it might be up to him and the eight other judges to decide just how far “the right to bear arms” goes.

Asked to comment about the Aurora, Colo., movie shooting and accused gunman James Holmes legally purchasing an assault rifle and high-capacity magazine, Scalia, a strict constitutionalist by his own admission,  said it remains to be seen whether there “are some limitations that can be imposed.”

In 2008, Scalia was the lead author of a ruling that invalidated a ban on handgun ownership in Washington, D.C., saying it violated the basic tenets of the Second Amendment.  He mentioned that it does not apply to “arms that cannot be hand-carried,” such as cannons.

But are hand-held rocket launchers, which are just as powerful as cannons, in that category? Scalia said it will probably fall to the court to determine what limitations should be applied to modern weapons.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Apr 132012
 

Whitney Curtis/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) — In an address to the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, Mitt Romney accused President Obama of “using every imaginable ploy” to restrict the right to bear arms.

Speaking to a crowd of thousands at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Romney vowed to enforce current gun laws without creating new ones and said he would work to protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans.

“We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners,” said Romney. “President Obama has not, I will.”

“We need a president who will stand up for the rights of hunters and sportsmen, and those seeking to protect their homes and their families,” he said. “President Obama has not, I will.”

“And if we are going to safeguard our Second Amendment, it is time to elect a president who will defend the rights President Obama ignores or minimizes, and I will protect the Second Amendment rights of American people,” Romney pledged.

But Romney’s remarks about gun control came toward the end of his speech — the candidate did not even mention the word “gun” until 18 minutes in — and focused the bulk of his remarks on shrinking the size of the government and reducing the nation’s spending habits.

“Freedom is the victim of unbounded government appetite, and so is economic growth, job growth and wage growth,” said Romney. “As government takes more and more, there is less and less incentive to take risk, to invest, to innovate, and to hire.”

Romney, who earlier this year revealed that he owns two shotguns, did not delve into his own hunting history during his speech. Earlier Friday, one of his senior advisors declined to specify when he purchased the firearms, where he keeps them or how frequently he uses them. Romney purchased a lifetime membership in the NRA during the last campaign.

In contrast, Sen. Rick Santorum, who suspended his bid for the presidency earlier this week, began his own address to the NRA Friday with tales of hunting with his family, saying that his wife Karen “owns way more guns” than he does.

“We had the national media trailing along with us as we went on a bird hunt in central Iowa right before the Iowa caucuses, and it was very exciting,” Santorum recalled, laughing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio