The White House Just Set Gun Rights Activists Ablaze


Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported the gun violence task force led by Vice President Biden is considering gun legislation “far broader and more comprehensive…than simply reinstating an expired ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition.”

News that the White House is considering significant gun control legislation in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. elementary school shooting is music to the ears of gun control advocates, who have waited decades for a serious conversation about guns. But it’s also being welcomed by gun rights groups, who say leaks from the Biden task force are just the thing to push their flock back into the fight.“[The article] was a Molotov cocktail right into the middle of this thing,” Dave Workman, a former board member at the National Rifle Association, told TPM Monday. “That lit the fuse, it really did.”

Biden has “galvanized the gun community,” Workman said. Though no longer on the NRA board, Workman still spends most of his time advocating for expanded gun rights. He’s an official with the Second Amendment Foundation, communications director for Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and a prolific writer on the gun rights. Both groups Workman serves on are sponsors of Gun Appreciation Day, a nationwide effort to highlight gun ownership scheduled for the weekend of President Obama’s second inauguration.

According to the WaPo, the Biden group is considering far-reaching gun control efforts, the mere hint of which has sent a shockwave through the gun rights community. Biden’s task force is mulling “a variety of proposals — from requiring background checks for all gun buyers to creating a new database that would allow the ATF to track all gun sales,” the newspaper reported. (The White House noted to the newspaper that the task force “has made no decisions on its final recommendations.”)

The plans outlined in the article were also rejected by newly-elected Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), who has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. She suggested that the sweeping new gun regulations reportedly favored by the White House may not sit well with the moderate Democrats who expressed newfound interest in taking about gun control after Newtown.

“I think you need to put everything on the table, but what I hear from the administration — and if the Washington Post is to be believed — that’s way, way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about,” she told ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “And it’s not going to pass.”

To Workman, the Biden solution is draconian.

“They’re talking about banning millions of firearms,” he said. “The writing was on the wall when Joe Biden was put on that thing because he’s a gun grabber.”

With the unsettling images of the Newtown shooting fading farther and farther away into history, Workman says gun rights advocates are ready to stand up and fight against the gun control push. Workman said his groups have seen a spike in memberships since Newtown. The NRA has also reported rising membership since the shooting and the fresh talk of gun control it brought to Washington.

Gun Appreciation Day is just one of the many things the “galvanized” gun rights groups will do now that the holidays are over, Workman said. The fight on Capitol Hill will get ugly, he added, but stories like the one in the Washington Post make it easier for gun rights advocates to prove their underlying point, namely that the president hates guns and gun owners.

“Obama has been anti-gun rights along, he was just waiting for his second term to push this stuff,” Workman said. “Unfortunately, Sandy Hook timed pretty perfectly with the start of this second term. … This nutball really handed this one to the Obama administration and gave the Obama administration a chance to take the gloves off.”

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