Vice President Joe Biden today is bringing the ongoing national discussion about reducing gun violence back to the place that spurred it, addressing a conference on gun violence at a Connecticut university just 10 miles from the site of December's Newtown shooting.
Biden will deliver remarks this morning at a conference at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn. Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut are co-hosting the event with Rep. Elizabeth Etsy, D-Conn., who represents both Danbury and Newtown.
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 and on the issue as well as working with federal politicians. The administration is seeking a whole host of policy measures to bring down gun violence, but it's unclear which, if any, could make it past the high hurdles they face in Congress, especially as opponents like the National Rifle Association continue to push back against them. Furthermore, the political will to pursue gun control legislation could be dampened as Congress focuses on the looming "sequestration" spending cuts.
In the face of these obstacles, Biden is leading the administration's effort to keep up public support for measures to reduce gun violence.
Prior to the vice president's remarks today, the conference at Western Connecticut State University will feature panel discussions on ways to reduce gun violence, protect children and make communities safer. The panels will include national, state, and local leaders, law enforcement, mental health experts, sportsmen, faith leaders, families and survivors of gun violence.
Biden has gone to great lengths to convey the idea that the administration fully supports Second Amendment rights, including pointing out that he himself is a gun owner. "No one's taking my shotgun," Biden said Tuesday during a Facebook town hall event with Parents Magazine, reassuring his audience that stricter gun laws won't mean people will have their guns taken away. He went so far to suggest that Americans who want a gun for self-protection should "get a double-barreled shotgun."
The point Biden was trying to make, White House spokesman Jay Carney explained the next day, "is that in his view, you do not need a military-style assault weapon to protect your home. In fact, you would be better off with a shotgun."
Carney noted that Biden owns a 12-gauge and a 20-gauge shotgun, which he keeps in a safe at his Delaware home.
"When we talk about the president's comprehensive package of proposals to address the problem of gun violence in America would not -- if all of them were implemented, the executive actions and the legislation, if it all happened tomorrow, not a single law-abiding American citizen would lose his or her weapon, or his or her firearm," Carney added. "And that's because we believe in Second Amendment rights. But we need to take action, sensible action, common sense action to try to reduce the scourge of gun violence in this country."
Of the measures the White House is backing, an expansion of background checks seems the most likely to pass through Congress. A group of bipartisan senators, including Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., are working on a passage to expand background checks "that I think that most of us will be able to support," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on NBC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday.