NRA president: Door-to-door gun confiscation a "legitimate fear"
The National Rifle Association didn't disagree with everything in President Obama's proposal today to cut back on escalating gun violence, the group's president David Keene told CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante today, but with coming talks of reform, he said there are "legitimate" fears on the horizon for law-abiding gun owners.
One of his fears: that a universal background check for anyone purchasing a firearm - the first of Mr. Obama's suggestions today - would lead to a national tracking registry of gun owners. That, in turn, Keene said, could give way to "forced buybacks," or, door-to-door confiscation of specific weapons by the government.
"In other words, 'I have a record that you have a shotgun, and you're going to sell it to the government, or else,'" Keene said. "That's the equivalent of confiscation."
Keene said when others suggest harboring such a concern is simply "being paranoid," "you point to senators and governors who want to do exactly that," he said. "The governor of Illinois said they want to knock on doors and confiscate guns. That's not an irrational fear."
Another point of disagreement was Mr. Obama's call to reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban. Keene indicated that a hammer, one of the deadliest weapons in recent years, has been more to blame for rising murder tolls in the United States than semiautomatic weapons.
"Very few of these guns are ever used for crime," Keene said. "I think in 2010 or 2011, more people in this country were beaten to death than killed by all our arms, including shotguns, so-called 'assault weapons,' and rifles."
Though the popular AR-15 assault rifle was used to carry out tragedies like the massacre in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater this summer, or last month's shooting spree at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, Keene said, "they're legitimate firearms in legitimate hands."
There is some common ground to be found, though, Keene insisted. Improving the detection of mental illnesses and harshening prosecution for law-breaking gun owners, Keene said, are among Mr. Obama's proposals that the NRA can get behind.
"Our disappointment with what the president said today," Keene said, "was that it was not a statement designed to protect kids, but to use the protection of kids, really, to advance what was ultimately an ideological agenda."
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