The Washington Post

‘We have to take action’ on gun violence, Biden says at first working group meeting

Vice President Biden speaks Thursday in Washington during a meeting of a task force that will look at ways of reducing gun violence. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Vice President Biden said Thursday that “we have to take action” to curb gun violence, as he convened the first meeting of the Obama administration’s interagency working group established in the wake of last week’s massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

Biden and several top administration officials met with leaders of the law enforcement community to begin developing concrete gun safety proposals. President Obama tapped Biden, a longtime advocate of gun control, to lead the effort on Wednesday.

“The president is absolutely committed to keeping his promise that we will act,” Biden said. “We have to have a comprehensive way in which to respond to the mass murder of our children that we saw in Connecticut.”

Biden said there are “some things we can immediately do” and listed a ban on assault weapons as one of them. Biden, who served more than three decades in the Senate, was among the authors of the original assault weapons ban that Congress passed in 1994.

Looking around the table of law enforcement leaders, Biden said, “quite frankly, you guys helped me write it.”

Attendees included Thomas Nee, president of the National Association of Police Organizations; Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, president of Police Executive Research Forum & Major Cities Chiefs Association; and Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police.

“You have a much more holistic view about how to deal with violence on our streets and in our country,” Biden said. He added, “I know you all; I know you well.”

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were also in the meeting, as were senior White House officials, including presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett.

In the coming days and weeks, Biden plans to convene similar meetings with gun safety advocates, gun owners, mental health professionals, educators, faith and community leaders, as well as local, state and federal elected officials, according to a White House official.

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.


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