Biden Tackles US Gun Violence After Newtown Massacre

on January 12 2013 8:58 PM
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden-Jan. 11, 2013
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks before he meets with representatives of the video-game industry, in a dialogue about gun violence, in his Washington office on Thursday. Reuters

Preparing a set of proposals on ways to combat gun-related violence in America, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met last week with groups ranging from the National Rifle Association to video-game industry representatives.

President Barack Obama's administration is making it a priority to address gun violence this year, prompted by the massacre of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month and the spate of mass shootings around the country last year.

“Right now, Vice President Biden is leading an effort to develop a new set of policies to reduce gun violence and prevent tragedies like the shooting in Newtown, Conn.,” the White House said in a blog post Thursday.

Biden is expected to deliver the proposals to Obama by Tuesday. He has already indicated they will likely include mandatory background checks for all gun purchases and restrictions on the ammunition capacity of certain types of gun magazines.

The vice president has also mentioned the possibility of implementing technology to make guns usable only by their owners.

"We will be meeting with technology experts because, to overstate the case ... a lot could change if, for example, every gun purchased could only be fired by the person who purchased it," Biden said Friday during a meeting with video-game industry executives, Reuters reported.

"That technology exists, but it's extremely expensive," Biden said. "But if that were available with every weapon sold, there's significant evidence that ... may very well curtail what happened up in Connecticut. Because had the young man not had access to his mother's arsenal, he may or may not have [done] what he did."

The NRA, following its meeting with the vice president Thursday, made clear it would not support any new legislation designed to regulate firearms.

“We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment,” the NRA said in a statement cited by multiple media outlets.

“While claiming that no policy proposals would be ‘prejudged,’ this task force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners -- honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans,” the NRA added.

Biden did not immediately respond to the NRA’s criticism of the meeting.

"I thought we had a very straightforward, productive meeting," Reuters reported the vice president as saying. "I don't have any comment about what anybody said about the meeting."

The NRA has previously pointed to violence in entertainment media as a primary factor in gun violence.

“There exists in this country a callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people,” the NRA said in a statement last month.

Biden lightly touched upon the issue in his meeting with video-game industry executives Friday.

“[W]hether or not there's a coarsening of our culture in a way that is not healthy -- I don't know the answer to that question, and I'm not sure what impact it would have or wouldn't have," Biden said, according to the Verge.

"I want you to know you have not been singled out for help," Biden told the executives, taking a nonaccusatory tone in the meeting, and making it clear that he was seeking a dialogue with various leaders in the entertainment industry.

In later comments, Biden also pointed out that gun violence in the U.S. was not an issue limited to the kind of mass shootings that have drawn attention from the media.

“There are 10,000 people a year gunned down in our cities -- different motives, different reasons, different explanations,” he said, according to Reuters. “But it's a real problem, it's serious.”

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