NRA touts internal Justice Dept. memo contesting Obama gun-control measures

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has obtained an internal Justice Department memo that it says shows President Obama's gun-control measures would not be effective without firearms seizures and national gun registration, the Associated Press reports.

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The gun lobby is citing the nine-page memo in ads running in 15 states, including several swing states with Senate elections next year. In the ad, the NRA says the memo proves that the administration “believes that a gun ban will not work without mandatory gun confiscation” and thinks universal background checks “won't work without requiring national gun registration,” according to the AP.

Obama has not proposed either of those ideas. Instead, he has called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as universal background checks for gun purchases – ideas included in Senate legislation introduced last month by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

The memo, a preliminary document signed by Justice Department research director Greg Ridgeway, casts doubts on all of those proposals. It has not been made public.

The memo says the ban would have little impact – especially if the many people who already have assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are allowed to keep them – because assault weapons account for a small number of gun deaths. And it says the usefulness of background checks would depend in part on “requiring gun registration,” something the president has shied away from in the face of bitter opposition from gun-rights advocates.

“Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals. Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned,” Obama said during his State of the Union address. “Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress.”