Obama: Gun-control scares are good for the gun business

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President Obama suggested this afternoon that the gun indstury has profited from the gun-control fears stoked in the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

"As far as people lining up and purchasing more guns, I think we've seen for some time now that those who oppose any common-sense gun control or gun safety measures, have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that the federal government is about to take all your guns away," he said. "There's probably an economic element to that. It's obviously good for business."

On this, there's a pretty broad consensus: The N.R.A. has said much the same thing, and gun shops have been selling out of assault rifles and extended magazine clips in the weeks since the school shooting in Connecticut, as lawmakers have floated proposals to ban them. Those fears have been stoked by industry groups like the National Rifle Association, which frequently promotes the idea that gun control represents a slippery slope that could someday lead to an unarmed populace.

"Those of us who look at this problem have repeatedly said responsible gun owners. ... They don't have anything to worry about," he said today.

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Obama did confirm that he's considering potential executive action as part of a package of reforms to be unveiled by Vice President Joe Biden tomorrow.

"I'm confident there are some steps we can take that do not require legislation," he said, suggesting that might include how the government collects research data on guns.

Obama said members of Congress would have to "examine their own conscience" when considering the reform package to be proposed by the adiministration.

"My starting point is not to worry about the politics," he said. "My starting point is to focus on what makes sense."

Earlier in the day, at an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress, Obama's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, suggested the administration should keep the legislation tightly focused, and design its strategy to pressure the Republican-controlled House.

"My view is whatever you do, start in the Senate, then clear the decks and put the ultimate pressure on the House," he said.

Asked about including new rules for scientific research of guns in the bill, Emanuel suggested that was extraneous, comparing it to the distracting talk of "midnight basketball" programs the last time Congress tried to pass major gun control legislation in the early 1990s.

"Clear the table man. Don't let a side issue derail these things," Emanuel said, addding, "You want the decks cleared, focused on criminal access to guns."