As Richard Feldman, a former NRA lobbyist who now leads the Independent Firearm Owners Association, put it: “There are lots of ways of skinning cats. It’s an old game on Capitol Hill. There are lots of ways for sophisticated professionals to play the game.”
Gun-related riders were included as part of the current spending package in talks that began last spring, according to House and Senate aides familiar with the discussions. The House approved its version of the spending plan over the summer, and senators agreed to include the riders in late November and early December — just days before the Newtown massacre.
But the riders “were not air-dropped in” after Newtown, said one aide, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the negotiations. “This did not appear at the last minute. This language has been around for eight years.”
But in light of the Newtown shooting, Gerney said he hopes his report might prompt Obama and lawmakers “to restart the clock, restart the debate, and look at each one of these things and say is it risky, is it worth it?”
A White House spokesman declined to say whether Obama’s budget request would include the riders.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who has emerged as a leading voice on gun control since the shooting in his state, called the ban on gun-store inventories an “especially noxious and harmful” restriction.
“Inventories are important law enforcement tools to preclude the disguising or deceiving of illegal sales,” he said in an interview Monday.
Blumenthal, elected to the Senate in 2010, admitted he wasn’t familiar with the riders until after the Newtown massacre. Now, he plans to back a last-minute push by liberal Senate Democrats to block the gun-related riders and push Obama to strip them out of future budget requests.
“The world has changed since Newtown, and we have a better chance of eliminating them,” Blumenthal said. “The effort is very much a marathon, not a sprint, and we have to be prepared to fight session after session, Congress after Congress, to change this policy.”