Biden: Gun panel not just a photo-op
US Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday promised real action to curb gun violence, including possible executive orders by President Barack Obama, and insisted his policy panel on the issue was no photo-op.
Biden spoke before meeting gun control advocacy organizations and victims of firearms violence and a day before meeting gun lobby groups, as he draws up reform plans in the wake of the Newtown school shooting tragedy last month.
“The president is going to act. There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken,” Biden said, though he added no specific actions had yet been decided upon.
“The president and I are determined to take action. This is not an exercise in photo opportunities,” Biden told reporters at the White House complex.
Among legislative and executive actions the White House is considering are a reinstatement of a ban on assault weapons, closing loopholes on background checks for people buying guns and better mental health care.
As pro- and anti- gun groups gird for a confrontation in Congress over Obama’s vow to make attempts to cut firearms violence a priority of his presidency, Biden also reflected on the carnage at the Connecticut school.
“I don’t think anything has touched the heart of the American people so profoundly as learning of those young children not only being shot, but riddled with bullets,” Biden said before Wednesday’s meeting.
“Every once in a while, there’s something that awakens the conscience of the country, and that tragic event did it in a way like nothing I’ve seen in my career,” Biden said.
Obama gave Biden until late January to come up with policy recommendations after attending a moving vigil for the 20 children and six adults killed by a gunman spraying bullets from an assault rifle in Newtown on December 14.
On Thursday, Obama will sit down with gun advocates including a representative for the National Rifle Association (NRA) which has called for armed guards in all US schools after the Newtown shooting.