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Ban On Assault Rifles Unlikely, NRA Chief Says

The head of the National Rifle Association said Sunday that there's little appetite on Capitol Hill for a ban on assault weapons.

"When a president takes all the power of his office, if he's willing to expend political capital, you don't want to make predictions, you don't want to bet your house on the outcome. But I would say that the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through this Congress," NRA President David Keene said on CNN's State of the Union.

Asked about proposed new limits on the size of ammunition clips, he said: "I don't think ultimately they are going to get that either."

The comments come in the wake of a call by the White House and some lawmakers to ban assault weapons and curb the size of ammunition clips. The push comes a month after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., that killed 27 people, mostly children. The previous ban on assault weapons expired in 2004.

Keene said Sunday that the measures being considered -- universal background checks, assault weapons ban, limiting the size of ammunition clips - won't work.

"One of the things that we have pushed for a number of years is including those who have been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent and potentially dangerous, onto the lists of those people who are prohibited from buying firearms," he said. "That has not been done. That should be done because most of the people who engage in these sort of things are people who have had real trouble."

Here's more from The Associated Press on the background to the story:

"The National Rifle Association has so far prevented passage of another assault weapons ban like the one that expired in 2004. But some lawmakers say the Newtown tragedy has transformed the country, and Americans are ready for stricter gun laws. President Barack Obama has made gun control a top priority. And on Tuesday Vice President Joe Biden is expected to give Obama a comprehensive package of recommendations for curbing gun violence."

Last week, Politico reported that the NRA has gained more than 100,000 new members since late December.

Democratic lawmakers were cautious about the prospects of an assault weapons ban.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said on State of the Union: "I think that we have a possibility. But I think it's going to be very difficult. I think the things that we do agree on, it seems, (are) the universal background checks and the high-capacity magazines."

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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