In a typical stunt, the often fact-challenged National Rifle Association is lying in a new ad that claims a Justice Department memo shows President Barack Obama wants the federal government to seize firearms and require national gun registration.
The White House has not proposed either idea and does not support such proposals, but those facts don’t bother the NRA, which often uses such wild conspiracy theories to raise money and add sensational lies to the national debate on gun violence.
The Justice Department memo, written by one of the agency’s crime researchers, does raise legitimate questions about the effectiveness of some gun control ideas, including some of President Obama’s proposals, but is a work in progress and what the department calls “an unfinished review of gun violence research and not administration policy.”
The memo by Greg Ridgeway, acting director of the National Institute of Justice, was issued two weeks before Obama announced his gun control proposals and on Ridgeway’s first day as the new acting chief of the Institute, the Justice Department’s research arm.
While Ridgeway, who came to the Justice Department from the RAND Corporation and studied criminal justice issues, is not responding to requests for interviews, another source within the Justice Department says he is “shocked” by the NRA’s wild claims.
“It was never Greg’s belief that the President wants to either seize firearms or require national gun registration. The NRA ad is a fabrication and a gross misrepresentation of President Obama’s beliefs on gun issues,” the Justice Department official, who asked not to be identified, told Capitol Hill Blue.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, calls the NRA claims “preposterous” and adds that Obama would “never take away a gun from a single law abiding American.” Other administration officials join Carney in saying the White House has never backed firearms registry or gun confiscation.”
“This is typical NRA garbage,” says former police officer Jack Wilson, who quit the NRA in protest of what he calls “its extremism and lockstep control by firearms manufacturers.”
Capitol Hill Blue has learned that the gun organization continues to lose members in droves over what many feel are the NRA’s extremist positions and sources within the group say officials are “lying” about claims of recent membership gains.
Obama does want to ban assault weapons and large capacity magazines while increasing background checks on gun purchases. In his memo, Ridgeway says elimination of assault weapons sales would have little overall effect because such weapons are used in a limited number of crimes.
Ridgeway also suggests increased background checks would be more of a success if coupled with legislation requiring gun registration and that a ban on firearms would be more effective in buyback programs.
White House officials say the suggestions were merely those — “pie in the sky” ideas from a new employee of a department and don’t represent administration plans.
The NRA ad, which is running in 15 states, suggests Ridgeway’s memo reveals Obama’s “secret” plan and has NRA chief lobbyist Chris W. Cox saying: “Still think President Obama’s proposals sound reasonable?”
“Facts don’t matter to the NRA or their cult-like followers,” says Wilson. “The group doesn’t care about the truth and it never will.”