The National Rifle Association may have tried out a softer tone this week in an online video criticizing the President’s gun proposals, but the underlying message represents a longstanding view of the gun rights group that the Obama administration insisted Wednesday is just plain wrong.
The video, which was posted Tuesday before the State of the Union address, pointed to what it claimed was a memo from the administration that proved measures supported by President Obama to reduce gun violence will eventually result in the federal government confiscating firearms that are lawfully owned.
But while confirming the document existed, a Justice Department official in an interview Wednesday with TPM strongly disputed the NRA’s conclusions about it. The official, who asked for anonymity to discuss the details, described it as “research on gun violence” and that the document did “not represent the position of the Department of Justice or the administration.”
“The Administration has never supported a gun registry or gun confiscation,” the official said.
The NRA’s video featured the organization’s chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, speaking to the camera. It put a new face on the NRA pushback, which has largely been led by Wayne LaPierre, following the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. Cox led off by saying Obama’s gun violence prevention plan “sounds reasonable,” but he then pointed to what he said is a Justice Department memo revealing the true intent of Obama’s plan.
The DOJ document cited in the video and posted to the NRA website, is labeled a “Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies.” The NRA said it proves Obama is out to create a national registry of gun owners and use the power of the federal government to confiscate firearms.
Neither of those ideas appear in the President’s gun violence proposals that were made public last month, and the Justice Department official told TPM the document is not an official memo nor was it used as part of the gun violence task force that created the White House plan.
“The ad claims that in order for our proposals to work, we would have to confiscate guns and create a national gun registry,” the official said. “That is simply not true.”
Robert Spitzer, chair of the political science department at SUNY-Cortland and the author of four books on gun policy, including The Politics Of Gun Control, agreed that the NRA was factually wrong in the video. He said the ad shows the gun lobby is taking a different tack tonally but unwavering when it comes to the president’s gun control plans, which the group insists is a confiscation scheme despite the details of the president’s proposals.
“The ad is less hysterical and foreboding than the previous one, but is actually less factually accurate than the one about Obama’s daughters (after all, it was factually true that they have bodyguards),” he said in an email Wednesday. “So, the NRA has traded anger for factual inaccuracy.”
The NRA spot had been framed this week as a change in direction for the group after being roundly criticized for its first responses to the push for gun control after Newtown, LaPierre’s first press conference after the massacre and the group’s TV ad mentioning Obama’s daughters. The press conference resulted in gallons of bad press, while one of the group’s top lobbyists told Reuters the TV ad was “ill-advised.”
Politico reported Tuesday that the web ad starring Cox represented a shift behind the scenes at the NRA. The ad featuring the Obama daughters was made by Ackerman McQueen, a firm that has been advising LaPierre and NRA since Newtown, while the Cox spot was “cut by OnMessage Inc, which handles the advertising for a number of GOP senators and governors.”
But while the strategy and imagery were new, the message was not. LaPierre other NRA leaders have warned for weeks that despite the administration’s repeated assurance that it supports an individual right to bear arms as outlined in the Second Amendment, the ultimate goal of Obama and his allies in Congress is the confiscation of guns.