Biden seeking way to tighten U.S. gun laws

Vice President Biden is flanked by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey (right) and Boston Police Officer Thomas Nee. Biden said police "know better than anyone else what's needed out there."
Vice President Biden is flanked by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey (right) and Boston Police Officer Thomas Nee. Biden said police "know better than anyone else what's needed out there." (CAROLYN KASTER /AP)

He met with cabinet members and officials from law enforcement.

Posted: December 21, 2012

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration will push to tighten gun laws in response to last week's schoolhouse massacre in Connecticut, Vice President Biden said Thursday, and Speaker John A. Boehner said the GOP-controlled House would consider the proposals.

Biden, who is overseeing the administration's response to Friday's killing of 20 children and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, said he and President Obama are "absolutely committed" to curbing gun violence in the United States.

"Even if we can only save one life, we have to take action," he said.

A longtime gun-control advocate, Biden met Thursday with cabinet members and law enforcement officials from around the country.

He said that he wanted to meet with the group, which included representatives of at least a dozen law enforcement organizations, because they "know better than anyone else what's needed out there."

Police chiefs helped develop innovations such as community policing and drug courts, Biden said, and they have a comprehensive view of how to approach gun violence.

Gun-control measures have faced fierce resistance in Congress for years, but that may be changing because of the events in Connecticut, which shocked the nation.

After the shooting, Obama signaled for the first time that he's willing to spend significant political capital on the issue.

Some prominent gun-rights advocates on Capitol Hill - Democrats and Republicans alike - have expressed willingness to consider new measures.

Asked whether he would allow a vote next year on gun-control legislation, Boehner (R., Ohio) said he and his caucus "join the president in mourning the victims of the horrible tragedy in Connecticut."

When Biden's recommendations come forward, Boehner said, "we'll certainly take them into consideration."

Obama on Wednesday tapped Biden to lead an informal task force on gun violence and set a January deadline for the recommendations.

The group is considering changes such as reinstating a ban on military-style assault weapons, closing loopholes that let gun buyers skirt background checks, and restricting high-capacity magazines.

Beyond firearms restrictions, officials also will look for ways to increase mental-health resources and consider measures to keep society from glamorizing guns and violence.

Biden said that the assault weapon ban, which expired in 2004, is one thing Congress can do immediately. He pressed the police chiefs to push for such a measure.

"For anything to get done, we're going to need your advocacy," he told the group, which included representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations.

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