A defector from the powerful National Rifle Association says some of president Barack Obama's gun control plans are useful, but others are a waste of time.

Richard Feldman was once a gun lobbyist with the NRA, but he split with the organisation and later described it as a cynical, mercenary cult that would rather fight than win.

Mr Feldman, who is also a lawyer, is now the president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association.

He has mixed views about , which include a ban on new assault weapons and mandatory background checks for all gun buyers.

"Some of them will be very useful and some of them are rather foolish," he said.

"The legislation that he's proposing and sending over to Capitol Hill, we went through that 15 years ago in this country, 20 years ago. It had no impact on crime and it will have even less impact now.

"There are over 100 million high-capacity magazines owned by the American people.

"They are not going to disappear because of a piece of legislation stopping the future sale of new ones. So it's kind of a silly waste of time."

But he says Mr Obama does have some proposals that could work.

"A national campaign on firearm safety and responsibility - I'm a believer in education. Education really does work," he said.

"The shooter in Newtown, Connecticut, his mother violated one of the prime rules of firearm safety - always keep your guns secured when not in use.

"That's basic responsibility and safety. We need to emphasise things like that."

Mr Feldman says he also supports mandatory background checks at gun shows.

"At gun shows, you're selling just like a dealer is. You're open to the public. We think it makes sense to require those mixed background checks at gun shows," he said.

"But even if we solve those kinds of problems, there are over 500,000 guns stolen in the United States every year.

"None of these proposals are going to affect the criminals stealing guns."

With gun ownership rights enshrined in the US constitution, gun restrictions have long been a divisive issue in American politics.

But polls show public sentiment shifted in favour of increased gun-control measures after the Newtown shooting.

Mr Feldman says most Americans are somewhere in the middle of the debate.

"I don't have and my organisation doesn't have a problem with certain restrictions. In fact, everyone I know supports gun control for violent criminals and deranged people," he said.

"It's all how you use the language and define the terms of the debate.

"Certainly after this horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, there was an emotional response that we in America haven't seen since 9/11, and when you respond to things emotionally, your actions and reactions are not always the best rational, fact-based responses.

"In this country we passed the Patriot Act immediately after 9/11. We were told that if we give up some of our liberties, we will have greater safety and security.

"We received neither. But once you give up your freedoms, your liberties, it's very difficult to ever get them back."

The NRA says it has enough backing to fight Mr Obama's reforms.

It has launched a in response to Mr Obama's gun control plan, questioning why his daughters are protected by armed guards while the president opposes putting such guards in schools.

 

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