Conservatives confident on gun measures

by KEN THOMAS and STEVE PEOPLES, Yahoo News  |  published on March 17, 2013

Conservatives are all but declaring victory on their defense of gun rights, exuding confidence as calls for aggressive controls in the wake of the Newtown elementary school massacre have given way to scaled-back expectations to firearm restrictions in Congress.

“They can call me crazy and whatever else they want, but NRA’s nearly 5 million members and America’s 100 million gun owners will not back down — not now, not ever,” an emboldened Wayne LaPierre, the CEO and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, told conservatives gathered at an annual conference. He pointedly ignored President Barack Obama’s most restrictive proposals in his speech, using it instead to assail the one that has the potential of getting approved — a near-universal background check for gun owners.

It’s a sign that LaPierre — and others at the Conservative Political Action Conference — thinks the nation’s largest pro-gun lobby has successfully beaten back the most limiting proposals.

Indeed, a bipartisan deal on near-universal background checks for firearms buyers remains a real possibility. And Congress still could pass a ban on high-capacity magazines. But Democrats haven’t been able to muster enough support, even within their own ranks, to push through an assault weapons ban.

That’s by far the most restrictive of the series of changes Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have sought following the Connecticut school shooting that killed 26 children and educators and a series of deadly shootings in Aurora, Colo., Oak Creek, Wis., and elsewhere.

In the hallways of the Conservative Political Action Conference, many activists echoed LaPierre. Few of them talked with urgency about the outcome of an assault weapons ban or some of the other proposed restrictions. And many exuded a quiet confidence that a divided Congress won’t act on even the more modest proposal to implement mandatory background checks.

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