"If a school district wants to have a community policing presence, I think it's very important they have it," Boxer said in an interview Thursday. "If they want uniformed officers, they can do it. If they want plainclothes officers, they can do it."
But hope of finding an accord over gun laws dimmed considerably Thursday after the NRA lashed out against what it called the administration's "agenda to attack the Second Amendment" after meeting with Biden and senior White House officials.
Biden plans to present recommendations from the administration's working group on gun violence to Obama on Tuesday. The vice president said Thursday that he sees an emerging consensus around "universal background checks" for all gun buyers and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines. Obama, meanwhile, has said he also supports a ban on assault weapons.
The gun industry has long opposed these restrictions, and the NRA said after its 95-minute White House meeting that it would have nothing more to do with Biden's task force, foreshadowing a partisan fight over gun control.
"It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems," the NRA said in a statement. "We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen."
Biden met with other gun-owner groups as well as representatives of hunting and sporting groups Thursday as he surveys interest groups in the wake of last month's school massacre in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six adults.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. met separately Thursday with major gun retailers, including Wal-Mart. Biden already has spoken with law enforcement leaders, gun violence victims and gun-safety groups and has had conference calls with governors and other state and local elected officials of both parties.
Biden said that, going into Thursday's meetings, his task force heard repeatedly about the need to strengthen background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. He said the proposals would go beyond closing a loophole that exempts some private firearms sales, such as transactions at gun shows, from background checks.
"There is an emerging set of recommendations - not coming from me but coming from the groups we've met," Biden said. "There is a surprising, so far, a surprising recurrence of suggestions that we have universal background checks."
These recommendations were not only about "closing the gun-show loophole," he said, "but total universal background checks, including private sales." He said the focus would be on how to "strengthen those background checks."
Biden also mentioned strengthening the ability of federal agencies to conduct research about gun violence. He drew a comparison between current limits on federal gathering of data about gun violence and 1970s-era restrictions on federal research into the causes of traffic fatalities.