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NRA's Sandy Hook press conference: What can it say?

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On Wednesday, Mr. Obama announced an interagency task force, headed by Vice President Joe Biden and aimed at coming up with proposals by the end of January. On Thursday, Mr. Biden convened a meeting of law-enforcement officials and cabinet members at the White House, and said he sees “no reason why the assault weapons ban” can’t pass Congress.

Given Republicans’ continued control of the House and ability to filibuster legislation in the Senate, that may be easier said than done. But what’s clear is that the slaughter of 20 first-graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School has left an indelible impression on Americans like no other recent event. And as the national conversation continues, the 4.3-million-member NRA is in a delicate position.

“The NRA is between a rock and a hard place because kids were involved,” says Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist. “The one thing the NRA must do is at least look like it’s a willing partner in this conversation.”

At his news conference Wednesday, Obama was given an opportunity to reach out to the NRA, but instead of appealing to its leaders, he addressed its members. 

“The NRA is an organization who has members who are mothers and fathers, and I would expect that they’ve been impacted by this, as well,” he said. “And, hopefully, they’ll do some self-reflection.”

Proponents of gun control point to a survey taken last May by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, which found that 69 percent of NRA members and 85 percent of non-NRA gun owners support background checks for gun sales at gun shows. This so-called “gun-show loophole” is high on the list of measures gun-control advocates are hoping will come out of Obama’s new push for action.

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