Updated 2:35pm ET: Obama administration officials will meet with the National Rifle Association Thursday, “one of the many” gun-rights advocacy groups that will attend a series of events at the White House, according to White House officials.
The NRA confirms it will attend.
“We got an invite late Friday,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said in a short statement. “We are sending a representative to hear what they have to say.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney downplayed the meeting, telling reporters that the NRA is just “one of the many” groups that will attend.
President Barack Obama says "I think anybody who was up in Newtown, who talked to the parents, who talked to the families understands that something fundamental in America has to change."
"We have invited -- or the vice president's group has invited a number of organizations and individuals to participate in meetings," Carney said, adding, "The NRA has certainly been one of the groups, one of the many groups invited."
Vice President Joe Biden and White House officials will also meet with representatives from the video game and entertainment industries, as well as victims groups and gun-safety organizations ahead of what could be the administration unveiling – as early as next week – a series of measures it will throw its weight behind in response to the Dec. 14th shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Twenty-sex people were killed in the shooting spree, including 20 young children.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images
A Secret Service officer watches as workers build a structure across the North Lawn of the White House to Pennsylvania Avenue for the upcoming US Presidential inauguration January 8, 2013 in Washington, DC.
The goal of the Biden group is to try and come up with legislative measures that could prevent massacres like Newtown from happening again. Among the ideas being considered by the White House are stricter gun laws, like banning high-capacity weapons and magazines, wider background checks, as well as mental-health screenings.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan will be talking to parents, teachers, and education interest groups; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will meet with mental health and disability advocates, according to the White House.
In the wake of the Connecticut elementary school tragedy, the NRA is calling for armed guards at every school. AFT President Randi Weingarten joins the program and calls for fewer guns and armed guards in schools, saying they have not helped in the past.
The NRA, however, is a potential major stumbling block to major legislation given its sway on Capitol Hill. And it has dug in after Newtown, continuing to be a staunch opponent of any further restrictive gun measures.
The NRA proposed that the government pay for putting an armed guard in every school in America, an idea President Obama did not greet warmly on Meet the Press Dec. 30th.
“I am not going to prejudge the recommendations that are given to me,” Obama said. “I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools.”
The White House says that “soon after the conclusion of these meetings, the vice president will present his recommendations to the President, who then will announce a concrete package of proposals he intends to push without delay.”