NRA Rips White House Gun Control Task Force, Ignores Taft High School Shooting

LaPierre
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, testified during a hearing held by the Senate Judiciary committee about guns and violence on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday. Reuters

The National Rifle Association released a statement Thursday afternoon criticizing the White House Gun Control Task Force meeting earlier that day, but the pro-gun group has yet to offer any public comment on a morning shooting at Taft Union High School in California that left two students wounded.

The statement on the gun control task force made mention of last month's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting spree in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 students, six adults and the shooter, Adam Lanza, dead, but it did not make mention of the Taft Union High School shootingThe NRA's official Twitter account, which sent out a link to the statement shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday, has also been silent on the Taft shooting.

"The National Rifle Association of America is made up of over 4 million moms and dads, daughters and sons, who are involved in the national conversation about how to prevent a tragedy like Newtown from ever happening again," the statement begins. "We attended today's White House meeting to discuss how to keep our children safe and were prepared to have a meaningful conversation about school safety, mental health issues, the marketing of violence to our kids and the collapse of federal prosecutions of violent criminals." 

The statement, which was released as a post on the "Wayne's Commentary" portion of the NRA homepage, named for NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, goes on to explain the organization's disappointment with the conversation that took place Thursday afternoon on address the scourge of gun violence that has swept across the United States in recent years.

The meeting, one of a series on Thursday among Vice President Joe Biden, NRA Legislative Director James Bakers, hunters' groups and a variety of other stakeholders including gun control advocates and federal officials, was aimed at opening a dialogue concerning solutions to the issue of gun violence. The issue of gun control has been at the center of the national conversation ever since the Newtown massacre, and its import was underscored by the news of the Taft Union High School shooting that morning.

Biden said at a meeting with hunters and wildlife groups Thursday morning that he will be sending the task force's recommendations to President Barack Obama within the next week: 

"I have committed to him that I will have the recommendations to him by Tuesday," Biden said, according to USA Today.

Biden spoke Wednesday about how Obama may implement the recommendations that come out of the task force if he is unable to get them through Congress:

"The president is going to act. Executive orders, executive action, can be taken," the vice president said after a discussion with groups representing survivors of mass shootings, according to CNN. "We haven't decided what this is yet, but we're compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the Cabinet members."

Biden outlined a variety of possible recommendations that he may consider, ranging from universal background checks on gun purchasers to restricting the purchase of high-capacity gun magazines, USA Today reported.

"There is a surprising, so far, recurrence of suggestions that we have universal background checks," Biden added, according to USA Today. "Among ... my former colleagues in the Senate, who have been pretty universally opposed to any restrictions on gun ownership or what type of weapons can be purchased, etc., I have never quite heard as much talk about the need to do something about high-capacity magazines as I have heard spontaneously from every group I have met with so far."

The suggestions for gun control measures appear not have sat well with the NRA, as the statement posted Thursday to the group's website criticized the meeting's scope:

"We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment," the two-paragraph statement reads. "While claiming that no policy proposals would be 'prejudged,' this task force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners - honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans. It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen. Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of Congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works - and what does not."

The NRA statement does not, however, mention the shooting at Taft Union High School in Taft, Calif. The omission jives with the NRA's apparent policy of not responding quickly to such tragedies, in light of the time that passed before the group addressed the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In that instance, the organization waited four full days before bowing to critics who contended that the group needed to comment on the incident given its position as the nation's largest pro-gun group. It did so by releasing a short statement announcing that it would address the shooting in detail at a press conference three days later:

"Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting," read part of the statement.

On Dec. 21, a full week after the shooting took place, LaPierre hosted a press conference and released a longer statement calling for, among other things, armed guards in every school in America.

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