Gun Rights Groups to Meet With Joe Biden Thursday

The vice president continues to work with his task force on gun control.

Vice President Joe Biden will lead discussions.
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Pro-gun groups will meet with Vice President Joe Biden Thursday at the White House to see if any political middle ground can be forged on the gun control debate currently raging across the country.

The meeting is one of many Biden has scheduled with interest groups this week to explore gun violence. Wednesday, Biden met with gun control groups and victims' families. He will also  meet with video game manufacturers.

"I want it clear to the American public that on behalf of the president, we're reaching out to all parties on whatever side of this debate you fall," Biden told reporters outside of the Wednesday meeting. "But the president is going to act. There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken."

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The National Sports Shooting Foundation, a trade association for the firearms industry, will send its president and CEO, Steve Sanetti, to represent its more than 8,000 members Thursday.

"Being one of the 'stakeholders'... we welcome the opportunity...to become part of a full national conversation with all policy makers that has its goal the improved protection of our children and our communities from future violence," the association said in a released statement.

The National Rifle Association is also expected to attend, but did not comment on the upcoming meeting.

National retailer Walmart, which sells firearms in their stores, initially said it could not attend the meeting, but changed its mind after it received blowback.

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"Knowing our senior leaders could not be in Washington this week, we spoke in advance with the Vice President's office to share our perspective," Walmart spokesman David Tovar said in a released statement. "We underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person, so we are sending an appropriate representative to participate."

Despite the apparent willingness of all parties involved, there is already some poison in the well.

One group, the Second Amendment Foundation, which fights to maintain legal rights for gun owners, says they are upset they were left out of the Biden meeting. The foundation says they reached out to the White House to be part of the talks, but never got an invite.

"It is kind of surprising that we were not invited," says Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation. "I am sure the NRA can represent gun owners, but for the administration, it would be better to have more players at the table."

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Gottlieb says he's not optimistic about any policy compromises coming out of the meeting.

"This administration seems more interested in demonizing gun rights and gun ownership than they do actually solving problems," Gottlieb says. "It is unfortunate because it would be nice to solve some of the problems, like helping people with mental illness from getting their hands on a gun."

Biden is expected to release a full report on what direction the country should move on gun control by the end of the month.

So far, the task force is looking at options such as limiting the sale of high-capacity magazines, strengthening mental health background checks and eliminating the gun show loophole , which allows unlicensed firearms dealers to sell guns without running background checks.

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The meeting comes at a time when public sentiment about guns is mixed.

A Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday showed the NRA's popularity has fallen six points since Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre held his press conference in which he called for armed guards in schools and chastised violent movies and video games.

The poll also found that 41 percent of Americans supported putting armed officers in schools, while only 27 percent thought giving teachers firearms was a good idea.

"The more the NRA talks, the less popular it becomes," PPP President Dean Debnam said in a released statement. "Americans don't think the solution to tragedies like Newtown is to put more guns in schools."