Despite long odds, on Tuesday night, Barack Obama managed to turn in a State of the Union performance that was filled with more theatrical pandering than the event is typically known for. Once again seeking to capitalize off tragedy by opting for emotional, rather than reasoned arguments, the President reiterated his support for increased background checks and bans on common semi-automatic firearms and their magazines, which he referred to as "weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines."
As usual, Obama's remarks were short on evidence that his gun control proposals would work. Of course, that evidence is sorely lacking--and who would know that better than the experts at his own Justice Department?
In a white paper dated January 4 and obtained by NRA-ILA, the deputy director of the National Institute for Justice--DOJ's research and evaluation agency--said that the proposals before Congress are unlikely to have an effect unless they are made even more draconian. For instance, the document makes clear that the effectiveness of "universal" background checks "depends on … requiring gun registration." On the topic of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, NIJ writes, "In order to have an impact, large capacity magazine regulation needs to sharply curtail availability to include restrictions on importation, manufacture, sale, and possession." As for popular semi-automatic firearms, the NIJ notes, "Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to U.S. gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is large, an assault weapons ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence. If coupled with a gun buyback and no exemptions then it could be effective."
The NRA's response was clear and strong. The evening of the speech, NRA-ILA released the memo along with a hard-hitting ad. In the ad, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox points out these highlights of the memo and urges viewers to call Congress in opposition to new anti-gun legislation.
And two days after the speech, in a speech to the National Wild Turkey Federation's annual convention, NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre commented on what was notably absent in the State of the Union address: "It was only a few weeks ago when they were marketing their anti-gun agenda as a way of protecting school children from harm… That charade ended at the State of the Union, when the president himself exposed their fraudulent intentions. It's not about keeping kids safe at school. That wasn't even mentioned in the president's speech."
To ensure lawmakers know you will hold them accountable if they support such legislation, contact your legislators by using NRA-ILA.org's "Write Your Representatives" tool or contact Congress by phone at (202) 224-3121.