Biden takes on gun control opponents: "America's changed on this issue"
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a conference on gun violence at Western Connecticut State University on February 21, 2013 in Danbury, Connecticut. The conference, held at the school where Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza once took classes, featured panel discussions on ways to reduce gun violence, protect children and make communities safer. Before killing himself, Adam Lanza killed his mother and 26 people inside the Sandy Hook School on Dec. 14. / Spencer Platt/Getty Images
In a fiery speech at a Connecticut conference to reduce gun violence, Vice President Joe Biden today called out groups like the NRA, charging that their most typical questions and concerns are nothing more than stalling tactics.
"The organized opposition, the same opposition I've been involved with for 40 years of my career... they throw up question after question.... because they're looking for roadblocks," Biden said at the conference, at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn. Today's conference was just about 10 miles away from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., bringing the conversation about reducing gun violence back to the place that spurred it.
Biden today said that December's tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook has changed the way the public looks at the issue of gun control, making it a national imperative.
"America's changed on this issue," he said. "We should all know the American people are with us."
And to the lawmakers who are concerned about the political risks, Biden said, "You all should know there's a moral price to be paid for inaction... If you're concerned about your political survival, you should be concerned about the survival of our children."
Biden has played a key role in the administration's response to the tragic Newtown shooting, leading a White House task force on reducing gun violence, working with stakeholders and communicating with the public. He acknowledged today the strong opposition that still exists to gun control, remarking, "Every one of these chats I do on the Internet... it's amazing the questions that seep in."
Just earlier this week, during a Facebook town hall event with Parents Magazine, Biden had to reassure his audience that stricter gun laws won't mean law-abiding citizens will have their guns taken away. Today, Biden again rebutted that concern and others.
"They say assault weapons like the AR-15 are needed for self protection or recreation -- they are not. There are plenty of ways you can protect yourself or recreate without one," he said. "They say it isn't about guns -- they're wrong . It is about guns... These assault weapons are unnecessary and dangerous weapons that put our law enforcement at risk."
Furthermore, Biden insisted, effective gun control measures can be enacted "without infringing on anyone's -- anyone's -- constitutional right under the Second Amendment."
The vice president reviewed the proposals for reducing gun violence that he sent to President Obama after speaking with hundreds of groups on the issue and coming to a "consensus" on reasonable actions to take.
Those include enacting a near universal background check system, limiting high capacity magazines and renewing and strengthening the assault weapons ban. He also mentioned enacting a federal gun trafficking statute, putting more officers in the street and encouraging research into gun violence. Mr. Obama and Biden are also proposing funding to give schools the choice of hiring a dedicated law enforcement officer or a school psychologist or counselor.
"We can't remain silent," he said. "We have to speak for those 20 beautiful children who died 69 days ago 12 miles from here."
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