Just miles from the site of the Newtown school massacre, Vice President Joe Biden warned Thursday that US politicians would pay a price if they refuse to back measures to stem gun violence.
Biden said in Danbury, Connecticut that there had been a change in American politics which made it less risky for lawmakers to back the kind of legislation the White House is pushing Congress to pass.
“What I say to my colleagues who will watch this and listen to this, I say to you if you’re concerned about your political survival, you should be concerned about the survival of our children,” Biden said.
“And guess what? I believe the price to be paid politically will be to those who refuse to act, who refuse to step forward, because America has changed on this issue,” Biden said.
“You should all know the American people are with us. You should all know there’s a moral price to be paid for inaction,” said Biden, speaking only 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Newtown.
Biden has led the administration’s effort to frame a plan to cut down on gun violence since America was left reeling from the horrific killings of 20 children and six adults by a gunman in Newtown in December.
The plan includes a call for a reinstated ban on assault rifles, an effort to close loopholes in background checks for gun owners, and limits on the size of fast-firing magazine clips.
But the administration is also stressing that it has no plan to take away anybody’s guns, and supports the Constitutional right to bear arms.
Obama’s plans have been rejected by the gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association, many Republicans, and some Democrats from conservative states who are facing re-election in 2014.
But there is a growing belief in Washington that there is momentum behind an effort at least to enhance background checks to ensure it is more difficult for mentally unstable people to obtain firearms.
Separately, Connecticut’s Democratic governor Daniel Malloy unveiled a multi-point proposal to prevent gun violence that includes universal mandatory background checks.
The proposal would also ban large capacity magazines, and outlaw the sale of assault weapons — firearms defined “as any semi-automatic weapon that has at least one military feature.”
On January 15 New York became the first state to strengthen its gun laws following the Newtown massacre, with measures similar to those proposed by Malloy.