Former NRA president to lead Washington Times opinion pages

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NRA president David Keene speaks about new gun proposals issued by President Obama. (Credit: CNN)

NRA president David Keene speaks about new gun proposals issued by President Obama. (Credit: CNN)

WASHINGTON — Fresh off his stint running America’s largest firearms lobby organization, former National Rifle Association President David Keene will now be directing conservative voices as the Washington Times’ new opinion editor.

In an announcement Sunday, the president and CEO of the Washington Times called the former American Conservative Union chairman “a tireless advocate for conservatism,” said Larry Beasley.

Keene’s two-year presidency of the NRA ended in May. He has risen to an increased level of prominence among conservatives in recent months thanks to the NRA’s lobbying efforts against gun control legislation after the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Washington Times chose Keene because “he is perfectly suited to craft the fresh policy ideas our readers have come to expect from The Washington Times’ opinion pages,” said the paper’s editor, John Solomon. Keene will help the paper “to inspire a new generation of conservatives to find their voice.”

Keene’s conservative bona fides extend well beyond his experience with the NRA, including as organizer of the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference. At the 2011 CPAC, Keene lauded an “awakening” of political conservatives in the United States.

It is with the gun lobby that Keene has become best known, leading the NRA’s efforts against gun control legislation.

In January, Keene told CNN “we are mobilizing for a fight” against gun control.

The Washington Times applauded Keene and the NRA’s “successful effort to block new restrictions on gun ownership and sales,” persuading “the Senate to reject the gun control measures.” That effort had a majority of senators voting in favor of moving forward with a bipartisan measure for expanded background checks, but it still fell short of the 60-vote threshold required to proceed. Supporters of gun control have vowed to try again.

NRA lobbying efforts overseen by Keene included a controversial ad pointing out that President Barack Obama’s daughters have armed guards while many public schools do not.

Keene expressed enthusiasm for the new job in the Times’ statement. “Since its founding, The Washington Times has played a vital role as the conservative newspaper in Washington,” he said. “Our challenge is to expand our reach in new media and in this political era to provide a reliable, readable resource for conservatives and others across the country.”

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