Contradicting Leadership, NRA Members Want Group To Meet With Obama To Discuss Gun Issues

ThinkProgress filed this report from Pittsburgh, PA at the NRA’s annual convention.

Shortly after the shooting massacre in Tucson earlier this year, President Obama called on all sides of the guns and gun control issue to come together to figure out ways to avoid future tragedies like Tucson. In March, the administration made good on the pledge and invited National Rifle Association officials to participate in closed-door meetings to hash out a way forward.

However, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre rejected that offer, despite the fact that various news reports said that in interviews, LaPierre “sounded at times like the White House” on the issue and “favored much of what Obama endorsed.” LaPierre explained his decision, “It shouldn’t be a dialogue about guns; it really should be a dialogue about dangerous people.” An Obama administration official said that it too wanted to “focus on the people, not the guns.” Nevertheless, the NRA was unwilling to talk.

Today, at the NRA’s annual convention in Pittsburgh, ThinkProgress asked a number of NRA members if they thought, in the wake of Tucson, NRA leaders and the Obama administration should, at the very least, sit down and discuss a way forward. While one person we spoke with said, “I really don’t know,” everyone else agreed, “It’s never a bad thing” to have conversation:

TP: I’m wondering if you think it’s a good idea to – or for the NRA leadership, I guess, and the Obama administration to sit down and talk about ways to prevent people like that from getting firearms – just to have a discussion about it.

NRA MEMBER 1: Yeah, a discussion is fine. … It’s never a bad thing to conversate about it. That’s how ideas are formed and things change. […]

NRA MEMBER 2: It never hurts to talk. […]

NRA MEMBER 3: If it’s a genuine conversation. […]

NRA MEMBER 4: I would hope, I think a discussion is warranted. And I would hope there would be what they call some middle ground. … Yes I personally believe yes. I believe there should be discussions on a lot of things like that.

ThinkProgress also spoke with another attendee whose father is a lifetime NRA member. “I think it’s definitely worth a discussion,” she said, adding, “Everything is worth a discussion, so to just kind of get things out on the table and see each other’s point of view to see if there’s a compromise or a different way to do things.” Watch the interview clips:

So if NRA members think it’s a good idea to sit down and talk, why doesn’t the NRA leadership? As former NRA insider Richard Feldman once noted, “Safeguarding the rights of gun owners has become secondary to keeping the fundraising machinery well greased and the group’s senior staff handsomely compensated.” And how does the NRA do that? By making President Obama the enemy. After all, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, LaPierre said “gun rights are the safest they’ve been in 25 years.”