Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

There is fresh thinking, of a peculiar sort, in the perennial debate over gun violence in the United States, world leader in civilian ownership of firearms. Censorship of news reporting on the mass shootings that have long been part of American life will help prevent other mass shootings.

So says the National Rifle Association (NRA) in an open letter responding to President Barack Obama’s suggestion that it is time for all sides in the gun debate to get together and find a “sensible, intelligent way” to make the United States a safer place. The president mentioned common sense and a White House spokesman talked of the need to find common ground.

Common sense has not been in abundant supply in decades of on-again, off-again debate on guns and violence. As to finding common ground between the leading gun lobby and advocates of better controls, the NRA’s Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, says his group will “absolutely not” take part in the sort of meeting envisaged by Obama. Such a meeting, he said in a series of media interviews, would be with people opposed to the constitutional right to bear arms.

Talking to people of different views is obviously not a concept the politically powerful gun lobby intends to embrace.

In his open letter, LaPierre listed steps the president could take to prevent mass shootings, such as the January 8 rampage in Tucson that killed six people and wounded a member of Congress, Gabrielle Giffords. “One of these (steps) is to call on the national news media to refrain from giving deranged criminals minute-by-minute coverage of their heinous acts, which only serves to encourage copycat behavior.”