WASHINGTON, DC – Vice President Joe Biden argued the National Rifle Association has had a role in driving up paranoia by spreading “disinformation” about recent proposals to combat gun violence, and said a large number of people own guns simply for the feel of a firearm in their hands.
As the Senate voted Thursday to proceed with gun legislation, Biden also pointed to recent polls in support of expanding the background check system and said the American public is way “ahead” of politicians on the issue.
His comments came in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” just hours before the Senate decided in a 68-31 vote to overcome a GOP filibuster and continue what will likely be a wide-ranging and divisive debate on the gun bill.
While recent polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans favor the expansion of the background check system to include private transactions at gun shows and online, the NRA and other gun groups have strongly lobbied against the bill, saying it could lead to a national gun registry.
In fact, a CNN/ORC International Poll released Wednesday indicated a majority of Americans fear that increased background checks would lead to a federal registry of gun owners that could allow the government to take away legally owned weapons.
Biden, however, dismissed that idea and said “the one thing the NRA has done so well lately is the disinformation.”
“This idea that there’s a national registry, there’s no place in the federal government where you can go–not a single place–and find out everybody who owns a gun. That will not change under this,” he said.
The vice president has long been at the forefront of the Obama administration’s push for tougher gun laws in the wake of the December shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead at a Connecticut elementary school.
Debate over gun control has ignited a firestorm on both sides of the issue in recent months, which came to a new height this week when the Senate reached a last-minute bipartisan agreement and voted to take up the gun bill.
Referring again to recent poll numbers, Biden expressed frustration that the public seems to be largely united on the subject yet Congress has been mired in debate.
“The public is so far ahead of the elected officials. I mean so far ahead. You saw it in immigration, you saw it in marriage issues. You see it now. The public has moved to a different place,” he said.
He also noted what he described as a change in gun culture since he first worked on gun legislation as a senator in 1994. Back then, he argued, hunters comprised the only real constituency he dealt with on the gun rights side of the debate.
“(Now) there’s a whole new sort of group of individuals who–I don’t know what the numbers are–that never hunt at all but own guns for one of two reasons: self-protection or they just like the feel of an AR-15 at the range,” he said, pretending to hold up a gun with both arms. “They like the way of the feel of it. They just, it’s like driving a Ferrari.”
By Ashley Killough
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