DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — National Rifle Association President David Keene told Iowa Republicans Thursday that he appreciates the “common sense” support of residents in the state while trying to fend off congressional efforts to impose tighter background checks for gun owners and ban assault weapons.
Delivering an address at the State Capitol during a luncheon sponsored by the Polk County Republican Party, Keene said that “the war has not ended,” despite President Barack Obama’s gun-control efforts failing in Congress last week. He said gun rights have been under attack and vowed that the powerful gun lobby will support the Republican and Democratic senators who voted against the measures.
“We’re standing with those folks who stood with us, regardless of party,” Keene said to a room packed with lawmakers, staffers and other supporters.
In remarks after his speech, Keene also said Obama’s statement that the powerful gun lobby “willfully lied” to the public about the proposed legislation was untrue.
“I think it’s unseemly for the president of the Unites States to throw a public tantrum,” Keene said. “We’re very proud of our information.”
Obama made tighter gun laws a top priority over the winter after a gunman killed 20 elementary school children and six staff members at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. He has pledged to continue his efforts.
Keene has been active with the NRA for decades, starting as a board member before being elected the group’s president in 2011. He is a former chairman of the American Conservative Union and a co-founder of the American Freedom Agenda.
Republican State Sen. Brad Zaun, of Urbandale, said he appreciated Keene’s remarks. Zaun said he was more concerned about tougher gun laws passing in Washington, DC than in Des Moines. There have been no serious efforts to make state gun laws more restrictive during this legislative session.
“I think in the state of Iowa on both sides of the aisle we recognize that this is something that Iowans want to make sure that is not weakened,” he said. “In the state of Iowa, I think we get it. Nationally I think there are some challenges.”
A handful of protesters stood outside the room where Keene spoke, waving signs in support of tighter background checks. Rick Smith, of Urbandale, said the protesters were not part of a bigger group but were just voicing support for the gun control measure.
“We think it’s a reasonable, doable, thing,” Smith said.
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