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NRA boss keeps details of CPAC speech concealed, as gun control fight heats up

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With the gun control debate heating up in Washington in the wake of the Parkland shooting, the CEO of the National Rifle Association is keeping details about his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference under wraps – apparently as a precaution. 

A spokesman for the NRA confirmed to Fox News that Wayne LaPierre will speak at the conservative conference, which kicked off Wednesday outside Washington. 

But unlike for other speakers, information about his appearance was not publicly released.

A time for the speech has not been finalized, the spokesman said. The Washington Examiner reported that his name is deliberately being kept off the schedule as a precaution due to possible outrage from anti-gun protesters in the wake of the shooting that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

A related panel discussion was also left off the schedule.

“Wayne LaPierre will be speaking, he’s my friend, he’s a leader in this area, and I’m glad he’s going to be there,” Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union which is heading up CPAC, said on Fox News’ “The Daily Briefing.”

The shooting has re-ignited the long-running debate over the Second Amendment and gun control laws. President Trump announced late Tuesday that he has ordered Attorney General Jeff Sessions to craft new regulations to ban firearm modifiers like the “bump stock” used in the Las Vegas shooting in October.

TRUMP CONSIDERS RAISING PURCHASE AGE FOR CERTAIN FIREARMS, AMID GUN CONTROL TALKS

A White House source told Fox News on Wednesday that Trump is open to a number of measures to address mass shootings, including a rise in the minimum age for owning certain firearms — proposals likely to see some resistance from the NRA and other gun-rights groups.

LaPierre, and other high-profile pro-Second Amendment speakers such as Dana Loesch, will be closely watched to see how they respond to the proposals from the White House.

Trump himself will speak Friday and it is unclear if he will address calls for new gun legislation, and how that will be received.

The prominence of the gun debate will also tap into a tension between more traditional conservatives — who consider Second Amendment protections paramount — and nationalist-populists more focused on immigration and Islamism.

Targeting the latter wing is the appearance scheduled for Thursday by right-wing French former lawmaker Marion Maréchal-Le Pen — the niece of 2017 French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and the granddaughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen.

French far-right Front National Parliament member Marion Marechal Le Pen takes part in the "La Manif Pour Tous" (Demonstration For All) to protest against PMA (Procreation Medicalement Assistee or Medically Assisted Reproduction) and GPA (Grossesse pour Autrui or Gestation for Others) during a march in Paris, France, October 16, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier - S1BEUHICYDAC

Marion Maréchal-Le Pen will speak at CPAC.

 (Reuters)

The 28-year-old Marion is widely viewed as more conservative than her aunt Marine — who worked to distance herself and “de-toxify” her party of the racist and anti-Semitic views of her father Jean-Marie, who was convicted and fined for comments in which he called the Holocaust a “detail of history.” Marine made it to the run-off in 2017 where she lost to now-President Emmanuel Macron.

While both share hardline views on issues such as Islam and immigration, Marion has expressed more traditionally conservative views on issues such as gay marriage and abortion. According to French newspaper L’Incorrect, Le Pen’s theme at CPAC will be “conservativism on both shores.”

Schlapp defended the invite in the face of criticism from conservatives.

“She’s her own person, she’s a young person, she’s broken with her family on those positons and she’s a new voice in France and by the way she’s a voice that resembles a lot of conservative voices here,” he said on “The Daily Briefing.” “She’s for traditional marriage, she’s pro-life, she doesn’t believe that the welfare state solves problems and, yes, she wants to make sure when people immigrate into France that they want to be French and love the country.”

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg was unconvinced, calling the move a “bad decision” and asking whether she was a classical liberal or a “National Front Kardashian with better messaging?”

The tension hits at the center of the debate within conservative circles over whether the GOP should stick to its free-market Reaganite conservatism or lean toward the more European-style nationalist-populist movements — reflected in the 2016 candidacy of Donald Trump. 

CPAC generally has tilted toward the former, and has had a sometimes-rocky relationship with populist speakers and lawmakers. Trump pulled out of a planned appearance there in 2016 over concerns of a backlash from more traditional conservatives.

With Trump now president, there is evidence of more populism seeping into CPAC. Former U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage will speak, as will former Trump adviser and Fox News contributor Sebastian Gorka — both of whom have called for restriction of immigration and warned against the dangers of Islamism.

Fox News’ Alex Pappas and John Roberts contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.



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'Deluded!' Britons brutally mock Alex Salmond's 'fantasy' bid to scrap pound in Scotland

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ALEX SALMOND has been branded “deluded” and “clueless” after he claimed Scotland should create its own currency if it leaves the UK – despite a warning it could be worth “half or less” what people expect.

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After Chauvin verdict, Senate optimism grows around police reform named for George Floyd

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WASHINGTON – The day after Derek Chauvin was found guilty for the murder of George Floyd, Republican Sen. Tim Scott expressed renewed optimism about the prospects of Congress passing a police reform bill.

“I’m confident that the issues that I’ve been discussing, as it relates to making progress on police reform are today — they have more traction than they had last year,” Scott, of South Carolina, said Wednesday speaking to reporters in the Capitol.

Sweeping police reform has been viewed as a policy area ripe for bipartisan cooperation since Scott joined the effort in 2015. Democrats have been clamoring for a federal overhaul since the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The Republican party’s libertarian wing has fueled it’s willingness to support limits on police.

But like most things in Congress, partisan division has stalled prior efforts and Republicans were chaffed that Senate Democrats blocked their last attempt to consider a reform bill.

The bill now being considered, named the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, passed the House in March, but stalled in the Senate because it lacks the support of at least 10 Republicans to clear the needed 60-vote threshold.

Negotiations have been ongoing between Scott, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who sponsored the House bill, but the group has not reached a compromise or made significant progress.

But Scott says he sees a way to break the impasse.

“I think we are on the verge of wrapping this up in the next week or two depending on how quickly they respond to our suggestions,” Scott told reporters.

Democrats are warning that the verdict can’t be a substitute for legislative action

“We should not mistake the guilty verdict in this case as evidence that the persistent problem of police misconduct has been solved, or that the divide between law enforcement and so many of the communities they serve has been bridged, it has not,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.

Scott agrees.

“I don’t know that anyone will see the George Floyd verdict, as a transformative moment in our justice system. I think we should see it as a serious step in the right direction,” he said.

The House-passed bill bans chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants. It also creates a database of police officers who have acted inappropriately in the line of duty. No Republicans in the House supported the bill.

“We must do our job in this chamber, and make sure that we reform policing, which will make life better, not only for citizens, but for the police,” Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., said.

Democrats have their own internal politics to navigate, including the risk that any compromise will be seen as too watered down by their base.

“I don’t think there is a path forward,” said Kat Calvin, a lawyer and progressive activist who founded the group Spread The Vote. She fretted that the Democratic Party, “within itself can’t agree on what it wants,” and said Republicans oppose policies “significant enough that it will make police stop killing people.”

She said Scott’s opposition to ending a legal protection known as “qualified immunity” for police officers means any compromise he reaches will be insufficient.

“Having Tim Scott lead these negotiations is not helpful,” she said. “Those of us who are dying — I’m Black in America. Everyone in my family is concerned about this issue.”

Scott, the only Black member of the Senate GOP, became the Republican leader on a police reform bill after the 2015 shooting in North Charleston, S.C., of Walter Scott, a Black man, by former police officer Michael Slager, who pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges. A police reform bill authored by Scott in 2020 was blocked by Democrats.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., thinks that Scott will be able to rally broad support among Republican senators for the deal he negotiates.

“He’s heavy into negotiations,” she said on Wednesday. “He would get broad-based support from the conference.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called police reform legislation “a huge priority.” He is a potential Republican to join Democrats on a compromise.

“The judicial system worked. But a man is dead. So that’s a very high price to pay,” Romney said. “I think the need to, to pass Tim Scott’s proposal with regards to police reform is as great as ever.”

Big policy disagreements remain between the two parties.

One major sticking point is qualified immunity, which protects officers from most civil lawsuits. Democrats want to allow on-duty officers to be sued as a form of accountability. Republicans, who generally support tort reform that makes civil litigation harder, say eliminating qualified immunity would make it impossible for police departments to recruit officers willing to take the financial risk.

Scott says he proposed to Democrats allowing police departments, not individual officers, to be sued.

Another sticking point is the prohibition of chokeholds. Scott’s previous legislation would just study the tactic instead of banning it.

Democrats also want to prohibit police from receiving decommissioned military gear, which Republicans oppose, arguing the items are not all lethal and sometimes necessary for disaster response.

Scott’s legislation received a vote last year when the Senate was controlled by Republicans, but was blocked by Democrats, who voted on party lines to prevent the bill from receiving the needed 60 votes. Now, Democrats control the Congress and the White House but lack the 60 votes needed to pass legislation without Republicans.

Schumer said passage is a priority.

“The Senate will continue that work as we strive to ensure that George Floyd’s tragic death will not be in vain,” he said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “We will not rest until the Senate passes strong legislation to end the systemic bias in law enforcement.”

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'We have not challenged them enough!' Jeremy Corbyn demands Keir Starmer's Labour improves

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JEREMY CORBYN has called on Sir Keir Starmer to improve as Leader of the Opposition as he admitted the Labour Party has not challenged the UK Government enough.

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