Obama said he tapped Biden to lead the administration’s efforts in part because of his role during more than three decades in the Senate as a leading advocate of gun legislation.
Biden helped write the 1994 crime bill, which included an assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and other lawmakers have said they will introduce legislation reinstating the measure.
On Monday, Obama directed Biden and several Cabinet members — including Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — to formulate a multifaceted set of proposals. Those Cabinet members and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will participate in Biden’s task force, which kicks off Thursday with a meeting of law enforcement officials.
In Connecticut on Wednesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D), the state’s former attorney general, said in an interview that there is evidence pointing to a motive in the slayings but that the investigation is in progress. He declined to discuss details.
“There is a complexity and difficulty to the investigation resulting from the unique circumstances,” said Blumenthal, who is in Connecticut attending funerals. “As to making public facts, there may be sensitivity to the grieving of families and the need to be respectful.”
On Capitol Hill, Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) became the first Republican senator to express support for a federal ban on assault weapons. “What happened in Newtown, where those children were subject to that level of violence, is beyond my comprehension,” he told a Massachusetts newspaper.
In the House, Democrats have introduced a similar assault-weapons ban, and on Wednesday called on House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to hold a vote on a bill banning “the transfer or possession” of high-capacity gun clips.
In an effort to demonstrate the shift in political thinking since the Newtown shooting, Democrats have tapped Rep. Mike Thompson (Calif.), a lifelong hunter and gun rights activist, to lead their gun-related efforts. Thompson said Wednesday that several Democratic proposals “certainly make sense,” including the ban on high-capacity magazines.
“I’ve been a hunter all my life, and there’s no reason to have a magazine that holds 30 shells,” Thompson said.
At an emotional news conference, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), whose district is just south of Newtown, said Republicans calling for more weapons in schools as a solution are “testosterone-laden individuals who have blood on their hands for making those comments.”
Peter Finn and Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.