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NRA Makes Rare Endorsement Of Regulations


The intractable debate over guns in this country may be loosening, if ever so slightly. In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, the NRA, the National Rifle Association, released a statement saying the group could support tighter restrictions on something called bump stocks. That's the device the Las Vegas shooter used to simulate automatic fire. Democrats and some Republicans are behind this idea. NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis is with us in the studio.

Hi, Sue.


MARTIN: How significant is the NRA statement on this?

DAVIS: You know, it remains to be seen. I think it's important to note that what the NRA called for was they said they support the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reviewing the regulations. And this is the executive branch taking action.

MARTIN: This is not Congress. They're saying...

DAVIS: Exactly.

MARTIN: ...The administration, essentially.

DAVIS: They did not call on Congress to act, which is what I found notable in that the question is, if the administration does some kind of review, is that enough for the NRA to say, that's good enough? And is that enough for Congress to say, that's good enough?

MARTIN: Because while some Republicans, even Paul Ryan, has suggested that these bump stocks could - should be looked at, there are still many Republicans who oppose any kind of gun legislation, any kind of gun control. I want to play a clip of Steve Scalise. He's the Republican congressman who survived a shooting just this summer. He recently returned to work. Here's what he said to NBC's "Meet The Press."


STEVE SCALISE: And I mean, look, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi already said she wants it to be a slippery slope. She doesn't want to stop at bump stocks. They want to go out and limit the rights of gun owners. And so I do think it's a little bit early for people to say they know what to do to fix this problem.

MARTIN: Sue, what are you hearing there?

DAVIS: Congressman Scalise is reflective of the view of the majority of lawmakers in Congress, that legislation to restrict gun rights is not the response to these mass shootings. The traditional Republican posture has been that the focus should be on mental health legislation not on gun legislation.

And I would also note, even though the NRA seemed to crack open that door and some Republicans have indicated a willingness to at least explore the issue, at the same time last night on Fox News, Wayne LaPierre, who's the longtime head of the NRA, made clear that they are not calling for gun restrictions. He's told Fox, we didn't say ban - in reference to bump stocks - we didn't say confiscate. So...

MARTIN: They said a review.

DAVIS: ...A little bit of cold water on the idea that this is going to provoke some big gun debate in Congress.

MARTIN: If it happens at all, it would be even incremental. And it sounds like it's a long way from happening...

DAVIS: Exactly.

MARTIN: ...At this point. And meantime, Republicans are trying to push tax change, tax reform, tax overhaul - however you want to label it.

DAVIS: Yeah.

MARTIN: Is this disrupting this?

DAVIS: No. And I think - it was quiet this week. But Republicans did make progress towards that goal. The House passed a budget resolution - the Senate's working on the same thing - that will pave the way for eventual legislation to what they say will reduce tax rates for every individual and business in this country. And Republicans I talked to this week say they will get that done by the end of this year.

MARTIN: All right, we want to pivot to what's happening with the Democrats because Linda Sanchez made some news yesterday, a congresswoman from California. She was speaking to C-SPAN. She said what is often unspoken, that there needs to be a leadership change in her party. Let's listen.


LINDA SANCHEZ: I think that it's time to pass the torch to a new generation. They are all of the same generation. And again, their contributions to the Congress and to the caucus are substantial. But I think there comes a time when you need to pass that torch, and I think it's time.

MARTIN: She's talking about Nancy Pelosi.

DAVIS: Yeah. She's referring to the top three leaders in the House Democratic Caucus. That's Nancy Pelosi of California, Steny Hoyer of Maryland and James Clyburn of South Carolina. These three Democrats are all in their early 70s - was sort of a reference to the boomer generation that's run leadership in the Democratic Party for a long time. And Pelosi and Hoyer have been the head of the House Democratic Caucus for about 15 years.

What Sanchez did, which was remarkable, is that she sort of publicly voiced the private concern of a lot of young, ambitious Democrats - that there just has not been any shake-up in the ranks to let the ambition rise.

MARTIN: Well - and also, Nancy Pelosi has been such a target for Republicans. So part of their argument is, just take the target away.

DAVIS: Right. And that - you know, I asked Pelosi's office if they had any comment on this. She said she has always seen her job as she's here on a mission, not on a shift and that she is focused on winning back the House in the midterms and anything else, in their words, is a distraction.

MARTIN: She does not believe her shift is over.

So we have got a little time, so I'm going to ask you about a name that you think you hear a lot, but you don't. It's not Ivanka. Ivana...

DAVIS: Right.

MARTIN: ...Trump is in the news. Why?

DAVIS: She has a book out. She has a book out on parenting, about raising her children, the three Trump kids. And in it, she made a little bit of news in which she told CBS that she speaks to the president on a somewhat weekly basis and that he asked for her advice on tweets. And he asked her, should I tweet? And she has advised him, yes, Mr. President, you should tweet. So we know one of the sources of the president's Twitter strategy is his ex-wife Ivana Trump.

MARTIN: Ivana Trump.

All right, NPR's Susan Davis, breaking down the week in politics for us. Thanks, Sue.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.
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