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Why the NRA won't talk gun control with Obama

By Jim Acosta and Evan Glass, CNN
The Obama administration is inviting the NRA to talks on gun control legislation.
The Obama administration is inviting the NRA to talks on gun control legislation.
  • Obama administration is pushing for gun control legislation
  • NRA official: White House is trying to weaken the Second Amendment
  • A poll finds 86% of Americans support background checks for all gun buyers

Washington (CNN) -- The chief spokesman for the National Rifle Association is expected to get an invitation any day now to sit down at the Justice Department for talks aimed at reaching a consensus on new gun control legislation.

But don't put down NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre as a "yes."

In an interview with CNN, LaPierre accused the White House of trying to pull off a "political maneuver" aimed at weakening the Constitution's Second Amendment right to "keep and bear" arms.

"What's happening is very transparent. The president's base, the anti-Second Amendment political base, is screeching. And he's trying to appease them," said LaPierre.

Complicating the talks is the fact that the NRA is suing the federal government, forcing the Justice Department to invite officials with the powerful gun lobby through their attorneys, said DOJ spokesman Matthew Miller.

The discussions are also to include backers of gun control legislation. Miller said the meetings scheduled for the next two weeks aim to include "stakeholders" in the gun control issue.

Noting on Tuesday that he had yet to receive an actual invitation from the Justice Department, LaPierre insisted the meetings aren't worth his time. "Why should I go sit down with a bunch of people that have spent their lives trying to destroy the Second Amendment? I understand what's going on," LaPierre said.

A top advocate for gun control in Congress, New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy calls LaPierre's refusal to join the meetings "foolish." She introduced legislation in the House Tuesday that would require an instant background check for all gun buyers, including those who purchase firearms at gun shows.

"If you want to look at any poll ... the majority of Americans, the majority of gun owners, all feel people should go through background checks. That is undisputed by anybody," McCarthy said.

A new Newsweek/Daily Beast poll finds 86% of Americans support background checks for all gun buyers, an indication of strong backing for closing the so-called "gun show loophole."

McCarthy's legislation would also stiffen penalties for states that fail to forward criminal, mental health and other pertinent records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The bill has the backing of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The bill is similar to measures backed by President Barack Obama who called for a new conversation on gun control in an op-ed that appeared in an Arizona newspaper last weekend.

The nation's porous background-check system allowed Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in January's mass shooting that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, to purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer despite indications he was mentally ill. His background check at the dealer came back clean.

LaPierre vehemently opposes any attempt to close the "gun show loophole," saying it wasn't a factor in Tuscon.

But the NRA's top advocate did indicate to CNN some support for strengthening the record keeping in the system.

Just don't expect him to sit down at the Justice Department to express those views.