US rifle association fires back at ‘emotional’ Obama

US rifle association fires back at ‘emotional’ Obama

WASHINGTON - The Associated Press
US rifle association fires back at ‘emotional’ Obama

Bill Karnok (R) of Grandpa’s Pawn Shop in Longmont, shows a customer a gun that he is interested in buying on Jan 5. US President Obama (inset) has called for urgent action for control on firearms. AP Photo

The U.S. National Rifle Association (NRA) has said President Barack Obama’s executive actions on gun control are “ripe for abuse” and lack seriousness.

The nation’s largest gun advocacy group is accusing Obama of political exploitation for announcing the steps in the last year of his presidency. 

Chris Cox, who runs the NRA’s lobbying arm, says the actions wouldn’t have prevented any of the mass shootings that Obama mentioned when he announced the steps at the White House.

Cox said Obama was trying to distract from his lack of a strategy to prevent terrorist attacks in the U.S. 

He said Americans did not need any more “emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts.”

The NRA isn’t detailing what steps, if any, it will take to oppose or try to thwart Obama’s plan. But Cox says the NRA won’t allow “law-abiding gun owners to become scapegoats for President Obama’s failed policies.”

A visibly emotional Obama, at one point wiping tears from his cheek, unveiled his plan Dec. 5 to tighten control and enforcement of firearms in the U.S., using his presidential powers in the absence of legal changes he implored Congress to pass.

Obama accused the gun lobby of taking Congress hostage, but said “they cannot hold America hostage.” 

He said it was possible to uphold the Second Amendment while doing something to tackle the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S. that he said had become “the new normal.” The much-debated Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to own firearms.

“This is not a plot to take away everybody’s guns,” Obama said. “You pass a background check, you purchase a firearm. The problem is some gun sellers have been operating under a different set of rules.”

Obama’s actions ensure that gun rights - one of the most bitterly divisive issues in America - will be at the forefront of the 2016 presidential campaign, which begins in earnest next month with the first primary contests.

Accusing Obama of gross overreach, many of the Republican presidential candidates have vowed to rip up the new gun restrictions upon taking office. 

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said she was proud of Obama’s efforts and promised she would safeguard them.

Obama wiped tears away as he recalled the 20 young children killed in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He paid tribute to the parents, some of whom gathered for the ceremony, who he said had never imagined their child’s life would be cut short by a bullet.

“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Obama said.

At the centerpiece of Obama’s plan is a more sweeping definition of gun dealers that the administration hopes will expand the number of sales subject to background checks. Under current law, only federally licensed gun dealers must conduct background checks on buyers. 

But at gun shows, websites and flea markets, sellers often skirt that requirement by declining to register as licensed dealers.