The White House, seeking more police support for its push to toughen gun laws, announced Thursday that Vice President Biden would hold a roundtable session about gun safety with law enforcement officials next week.
Biden will travel to Philadelphia to meet with law enforcement officials and congressional Democrats on Monday, on the eve of President Obama’s “State of the Union” address on Tuesday. In his address, the president is expected to detail his ambitious second-term legislative agenda, which includes sweeping gun-control measures.
The White House said Biden will be joined in the meeting by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Reps. Bob Brady (D-Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) and Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), as well as Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole.
Casey, who had long defended gun rights and earned a strong rating from the National Rifle Association, has said he was deeply affected by last December’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., and that he now supports stricter gun control.
Since Obama tapped Biden to lead a task force on gun violence after the school killings, the vice president has been the administration’s point person in the contentious gun debate.
Biden began hitting the road last month for what aides said would be many visits across the country to tout Obama’s gun proposals, which include universal background checks for all gun buyers, tougher gun trafficking laws and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Two weeks ago, Biden went to Richmond, where he, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius met with state and local officials who overhauled Virginia’s background check system and mental health programs in the wake of the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech.
In recent weeks, the administration has showcased law enforcement leaders in its effort to shape the emotional gun debate. Uniformed police officers and sheriffs attended the White House ceremony in January where Obama and Biden formally unveiled their proposals for preventing gun violence. At the White House last week, Obama met with a group of law enforcement leaders from around the country.
And on Monday, Obama visited the Minneapolis Police Department and spoke about his guns agenda as dozens of uniformed officers stood behind him. The stagecraft bore echoes of President Bill Clinton’s success in getting law enforcement groups to support passage of the 1994 crime bill, which included a ban on assault weapons that expired 10 years later.