Gun control debate gets nastier ahead of Biden’s meeting with the NRA

The gun debate turns even more contentious as multiple right-wing outlets invoke Hitler and Stalin [UPDATED]

Topics: Joe Biden, NRA, Second Amendment, Gun Control, Gun Violence,

Update - Jan. 10, 1:15 p.m.: Biden said in a press conference that he would present President Obama with gun control recommendations by Tuesday. He said that while he has not finalized his plan, there is a consensus emerging about what the measures should look like. “There has got to be some common ground, to not solve every problem but diminish the probability,” Biden said, according to the Associated Press.

Biden remarks came after he met with sportsmen and wildlife organizations, but he is still scheduled to meet with representatives from the NRA this afternoon, and members of the entertainment industry later today.

From earlier:

Joe Biden is set to meet with the NRA and other gun control opponents at the White House today as part of his gun violence task force, just as the broader debate is getting even more contentious.

The task force, which was set up in the wake of the Newtown school shootings, has been charged with establishing a set of concrete proposals by the end of the month. And Biden sparked outrage on the right yesterday when he said that President Obama is open to using executive orders to enact stricter gun control laws if Congress fails to act on its own.

Yesterday, the Drudge Report featured a picture of Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin on its front page to illustrate a story about Biden’s comments. Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan, S.C., said in a statement that “The Founding Fathers never envisioned Executive Orders being used to restrict our Constitutional rights. We live in a republic, not a dictatorship.”

That’s not to say that these comparisons are anything new. A Fox & Friends guest and former Marine compared gun control laws to the rule of Joseph Stalin and the Third Reich earlier this week. And radio host Alex Jones made a similar point in a bizarre and outrageous appearance on Piers Morgan’s show: “Hitler took the guns! Stalin took the guns! Mao took the guns! Fidel Castro took the guns! Hugo Chavez took the guns! And I’m here to tell you that 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms!”

As Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM reports, gun control opponents have always used Hitler as a way to quickly shut down any debate on gun control:

Bumper stickers like this one have been kicking around the anti-gun control community since well before the “from my cold, dead hands” era.

The White House declined to comment on the Drudge image, or the general comparison to Hitler’s regime that have popped up in anti-gun control corners since Obama began his push for new legislation. Most politicians who have talked openly about gun control have had the Hitler quotes thrown at them, and there’s a lot of reporting suggesting the most oft-repeated of these Hitler quotes are not in fact Hitler quotes.

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The NRA is also drilling down on the gun control debate that’s happening in New York state, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is pushing a broad crackdown on the state’s already strict gun laws. As the New York Times reports, the state is moving quickly on Cuomo’s proposals, which he laid out in yesterday’s State of the State address, and he’s not getting much pushback from state Senate Republicans:

Lawmakers in Albany, seeking to send a message to the nation that the recent mass shootings demand swift action, say they hope to vote on the package of legislation as soon as next week.

The Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, told reporters on Wednesday that Mr. Cuomo and legislative leaders were “95 percent” of the way toward an agreement. Senate Republicans, considered the only possible obstacle to the governor’s proposal, indicated they did not intend to block a deal.

But gun rights groups are certainly not satisfied with this, and are planning to target state legislators over the measures.  “We fully expect that New York state’s gun owners will be completely engaged in this debate and N.R.A. will be there to lead them,” said Chris W. Cox, the head lobbyist for the NRA.

“The legislators are going to be getting a lot of phone calls in their district offices,” said Budd Schroeder, the chairman of the Shooters Committee on Political Education. “How is taking away my rights to own any type of firearm I choose going to change the attitude of a criminal?”

National Rifle Association President David Keene said on the Brooklyn GOP’s podcast that “the idea of banning or restricting firearms from perfectly honest, legitimate Americans who have a right to defend themselves as per the Supreme Court and the Second Amendment, have a right to privately own firearms, is both constitutionally suspect and, from a policy standpoint, has been empirically demonstrated over time not to have any impact whatever on violence or crime.”

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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