House Democrat pushes gun reforms backed by NRA members

A House Democrat is pushing a package of gun reforms that a recent poll indicates is popular among members of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said the legislation — which comes as a response to last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — will highlight what he calls a disconnect between NRA members and the group's leaders, who are in near-blanket opposition to tougher gun laws.

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“The NRA’s absolutist position on gun issues is an impediment to the safety and security of the public," Moran said in a statement. "This legislation is designed to highlight that schism, offering popular proposals even NRA members support to prevent more gun-related tragedies."

Moran's legislation is based on the results of a July survey conducted by GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who asked NRA members and other gun-owners about different gun-reform proposals.

Luntz found that:

• 74 percent of NRA members support criminal background checks on all potential gun buyers — as opposed to current law, which requires background checks only on those who buy from licensed gun dealers;

• 79 percent of NRA members back requiring gun retailers to perform background checks on all employees;

• 71 percent of NRA members would bar those on the FBI's terrorist watch-list from buying and owning guns;

• 64 percent of NRA members support requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms.

Moran's package would institute all those changes, while also establishing tougher standards for gun owners wishing to get concealed carry permits, including new age and safety-training mandates.

The legislation arrives as the nation grapples with ways to prevent gun violence in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, where a lone gunman shot and killed 27 people last week, 20 of them six- and seven-year-old students, before fatally shooting himself. 

The episode — the latest in a string of mass shootings in recent years — has caused President Obama and a growing list of congressional Democrats to push for tougher gun laws.

On Friday, the NRA broke its week-long silence on the shooting with a combative speech from CEO Wayne LaPierre, who said the tragedy could have been prevented if someone at the school had been armed. He blamed gun reformers, Hollywood, Obama and the media for fostering an environment that at once glorifies violence and promotes hostility toward guns.

"Is the press and political class here in Washington so consumed by fear and hatred of the NRA and America’s gun owners that you're willing to accept a world where real resistance to evil monsters is a lone, unarmed school principal left to surrender her life to shield the children in her care?" he asked. 

The group is calling for programs to put an armed guard in every school in the country.

NRA President David Keene told reporters Friday that the group is ready to participate in the gun-violence conversation, but is declining to field questions until Monday. 

House Democratic leaders, meanwhile, said they doubted that most NRA members — let alone most of the country — would react kindly to LaPierre’s message.

“The recommendation of an arms escalation in America is not, I think, a solution that the American people believe makes sense,” Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) said at a news conference at the Capitol.