Gun lobby targets Obama's 'absolutism'

2013-01-23 13:01
Jason Zielinski helps a customer select a rifle at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store. (AFP)

Jason Zielinski helps a customer select a rifle at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store. (AFP)

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Washington - The leader of the biggest US gun lobby criticised President Barack Obama on Tuesday for condemning "absolutism" in politics, and vowed to stand his ground on gun control.

"Obama wants to turn the idea of absolutism into a dirty word," National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said in what his group billed as a "major response" to Obama's inaugural address on Monday.

LaPierre insisted that semi-automatic weapons should remain legal, and attacked Obama's gun control platform unveiled last week by saying that universal background checks for gun purchases would hurt American traditions.

"He wants to put every private, personal firearms transaction right under the thumb of the federal government," LaPierre said in an address streamed live on the NRA's website and on cable television.

"He wants to keep all of those names in a massive federal registry. There's only two reasons for a federal list on gun owners: to either tax them or take them. It is the only reason. And anyone who says that is excessive, President Obama says you're an absolutist."

Background checks

The gun lobbyist was focusing on a single line from Obama's second inaugural speech that was largely believed to be aimed at his Republican foes in Congress.

"We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics or treat name-calling as reasoned debate," Obama said.

The White House has not called for a universal list of gun owners. Instead, its proposal would require federal background checks in all gun sales from licensed firearms dealers in a bid to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons, people with mental problems and others deemed dangerous.

The proposal came after a rash of gun violence including the killings of 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month in Newtown, Connecticut.

"We're told that wanting the same technology that the criminals and our elites are protected by for themselves, is a form of absolutism," LaPierre said. "Barack Obama is saying that the only principled way to make children safe is to make lawful citizens less safe."

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