After consulting with a series of stakeholders in the ongoing debate over gun control, Vice President Joe Biden will present his recommendations for reducing gun-related violence in America to President Obama on Tuesday, he said today.
The vice president, speaking to reporters before a meeting on gun violence with sportsmen and women, outlined a series of the recommendations he said are emerging in the course of his conversations with various stakeholders in the conversation — among which include universal background checks, restrictions on high-capacity magazines, and federal abilities to effectively research gun violence. Biden also stressed ongoing discussions about the importance of including the mental health community in the conversation.
“If you look at every one of the tragic events that have attracted so much attention, it's hard to be able to pinpoint what you would have done to assure it wouldn't have happened. But there's also things we know, we know, that there's certain actions we take that have diminished the extent of the gun violence that otherwise would be occurring in the United States,” he said. “There's an emerging set of recommendations, not coming from me, but coming from the groups we've met with, and I'm gonna focus on the ones that relate primarily to gun ownership, what types of weapons can be owned.”
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Biden's meeting with sportsmen and women marked the first of three he'll hold today on the subject: Later this afternoon he'll meet with the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups, and in the evening he'll meet with entertainment interest groups, including the Motion Picture Association of America. Former Senator Chris Dodd, D-Conn., now the president of the MPAA, will be in attendance. Additionally, Attorney General Eric Holder will discuss the subject today with retailers like Wal-Mart, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Bass Pro Shops.
Biden, the author of the original Assault Weapons Ban, was tapped by Mr. Obama to lead a task force aimed at developing actionable solutions to gun violence in America in the aftermath of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut last month.Yesterday, he met with representatives of victims groups and gun-safety organizations like the Brady Campaign, as well as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
In comments surrounding the meetings, Biden has acknowledged the difficulty of pushing gun control legislation through Congress, including among his “former colleagues in the Senate, who have been pretty universally opposed to any restrictions on gun ownership, or what types of weapons can be purchased, etc.”
But he argued that, in the aftermath of the recent violence, there's a growing consensus around a certain set of ideas.
“I've never quite heard as much talk about the need to do something about high capacity magazines, as I've heard spontaneously from every group that we've met with so far,” Biden argued. “And maybe one of the most important things we've been focusing on is the mental health community… There's an argument among health providers that this is a major component to deal with, particularly a lot of suicides as well that we're seeing today.”
Regardless of what path Mr. Obama chooses to pursue, much depends on Congress's will to implement the administration's plan — and the White House faces an uphill battle in overcoming immense pushback from powerful pro-gun lobbies, as well as longstanding Republican opposition to any tightening of gun laws. One possibility for sidestepping congressional opposition, Biden suggested yesterday, is that the president advance his agenda through executive order rather than pushing legislation through the House and Senate. It's unclear, however, how much Mr. Obama might be able to accomplish through that means.
In his remarks today, the vice president reiterated his commitment to finding common ground amid the fraught political debate.
“I'm not sure we can guarantee that this will never happen again. But as the president said, even if what we do only saves one life, it makes sense,” he said. “And I think we can do a great deal without in any way imposing on or impinging on the rights of the second amendment, that the second amendment guarantees. That's what this is all about.”