The executive actions were the product of Biden’s task force, which reviewed ways to stem gun violence after the Newtown massacre, in which 20 children and six adults were killed.
Several of the actions were bureaucratic steps designed to strengthen the existing background-check system, including making federal agencies provide relevant criminal records and improving incentives for states to share information with the system.
Other steps could help empower law enforcement, including enhancing data to trace firearms and allowing police to run background checks on released suspects before returning seized guns to them.
In addition, Obama has directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research the causes and prevention of gun crimes, including links between video games, media images and violence, officials said.
Biden held up several documents, which he described as detailed emergency management plans that would help communities and schools prepare for mass shootings or attacks.
“I personally was getting calls from around the country: ‘Joe, what do we do if anything remotely similar to what happened at Sandy Hook happens in our community?’ ”
Pia Carusone, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions, a group founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), pointed to new laws in some states, such as Delaware and Colorado, which have toughened firearm restrictions.
“There’s a lot that can be done to make our communities safer, some of which can be done at the executive level and some of which can be done at the legislative level,” Carusone said. “In the absence of any federal action legislatively, there’s been a lot of good work that’s been done at the state level.”
White House aides and gun-control advocates hope the Senate will reconsider the measure this summer or fall. But a senior administration official would not disclose whether any progress had been made on the legislative front since the April vote, or detail any conversations Obama, Biden or other White House officials may have had with key senators.
Biden was introduced Tuesday by Stephen Barton, who was struck twice during the mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., last year.
“If you want reason for optimism, you’re looking at it,” Biden said of Barton. Turning to him, the vice president said, “I look forward to working with you and finishing the job.”