The consensus Biden described is among gun-control advocates and law enforcement officials with whom he has been meeting for the past week. The gun industry has long opposed such restrictions, including background checks on private sales of firearms.
Biden, who said he would present his working group’s policy recommendations to President Obama by Tuesday, suggested that universal background checks and a high-capacity magazine ban would be part of the administration’s agenda.
Biden made the remarks as he opened a meeting with hunters and sportsmen, one of a series Thursday that also included a gathering with gun owners’ groups, notably the NRA.
Biden was tasked by Obama with leading an interagency working group on gun violence in the wake of last month’s elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 small children and six educators.
Biden said that, going into Thursday’s meetings, the group has heard repeatedly about the need to strengthen background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. He said proposals would go beyond closing a loophole that exempts some private firearms sales, such as at gun shows, from background checks.
“There is an emerging set of recommendations — not coming from me but coming from the groups we’ve met,” Biden said. “There is a surprising, so far, a surprising recurrence of suggestions that we have universal background checks.”
These recommendations were not only about “closing the gun show loophole,” he said, “but total universal background checks, including private sales.” He said the focus would be on how to “strengthen those background checks.”
Biden also mentioned strengthening the ability of federal agencies to conduct research about gun violence. He drew a comparison between current limits on federal gathering of data about gun violence and 1970s-era restrictions on federal research into the causes of traffic fatalities. Biden stressed a need for the government to collect information about “what kind of weapons are used most to kill people” and “what kind of weapons are trafficked weapons.”
Biden’s comments came an hour before he was scheduled to meet with a senior representative of the NRA, the powerful gun rights group that has long opposed any additional restrictions on gun ownership or ammunition purchases.
In a statement after that meeting, the Fairfax-based NRA said it attended the session to “discuss how to keep our children safe” and to “have a meaningful conversation about school safety, mental health issues, the marketing of violence to our kids and the collapse of federal prosecutions of violent criminals.”