Biden on assault weapons ban: "Think about Newtown"

Vice President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks at the Winter-Spring meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, in Washington.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

As the prospects of the assault weapons ban flounder in Congress, Vice President Joe Biden today urged Congress to "think about Newtown" - and all of the "beautiful babies" who were killed there last year in a mass shooting - before insisting the "politics" of passing gun laws is too hard.

Biden, who joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today for a Manhattan press conference, struck a personal note in his remarks today, standing alongside a handful of parents whose children were killed in the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and addressing them occasionally throughout his remarks.

He wondered how Congress could possibly lack the courage to vote for a law due to political pressure when teachers at Sandy Hook had laid their lives down to protect their first-grade students.

"Three months ago, a deranged man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary with a weapon of war," he said. "Let's get this straight. This is not about anybody's constitutional right to own a weapon. For all those who say we shouldn't and can't ban assault weapons - for all those who say the politics is too hard, how can they say that?... When you take a look at those 20 beautiful babies and what happened to them? And those six teachers and administrators?"

Biden, who was tasked after the Newtown shootings with developing a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence in America, has also served as the administration's mouthpiece on behalf of those proposals. In the last three months, he has toured the country in an attempt to build public support for measures like universal background checks, a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips, and a number of other measures -- measures that, he has pointed out many times, polls show most Americans, including most gun owners, support.

But amid ongoing resistance from Republicans - presumably under pressure from the powerful pro-gun lobby - the prospects of his proposals look less than promising.

"What a heck of a way to make a living," Biden said today, ruminating on the notion that politicians would be so beholden to special interests that they would be unable to support what he calls the "common sense" proposals he has put forth. Turning to a woman behind him, he said, "It's time for the political establishment to show the courage your daughter showed."