The Washington Post

Biden says ‘no silver bullet’ exists to solve the problem with gun violence

Vice President Biden said Friday that there was “no silver bullet” to deal with gun violence, explaining that the Obama administration was considering a wide-ranging set of policies in the wake of last month’s school massacre in Connecticut.

Biden’s unusual choice for metaphor came after a White House meeting with video game industry executives, who have come under scrutiny for violent ­gun-related themes in their products.

The comments marked the last in a series of meetings held this week by Biden’s anti-gun-violence task force, which he said is “shooting for Tuesday” to forward a set of policy recommendations to President Obama.

Obama and his advisers have signaled that they intend to push a broad and ambitious set of ­anti-gun-violence proposals in Congress, including a ban on military-style assault weapons and a limit on the number of bullets in magazines. The White House has said Obama intends to decide on a final set of proposals by the end of this month.

“We know there is no silver bullet” to prevent tragedies such as last month’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six adults, Biden said. “We know this is a complex problem.”

Biden said he came to Friday’s meeting “with no judgment” on the role of video games in possibly encouraging gun violence.

“You all know the judgment other people have made,” he added. The government is “looking for help” in addressing the problem, he told the video game makers. “We’re anxious to see if there is anything you can suggest to us.”

He said the country has a “problem beyond, quote-unquote, massacres” and noted that “there’s 10,000 people a year gunned down in our cities.”

Friday’s session followed a contentious meeting Thursday with such gun-rights groups as the National Rifle Association, which disparaged the meeting afterward and said the administration had an “agenda to attack the Second Amendment.”

Asked by a reporter about the NRA session, Biden said, “I thought we had a very straightforward, productive meeting.” He declined to comment on what was said there.

Obama has publicly said he supports banning assault weapons, as well as requiring universal background checks for all gun sales and prohibiting high-capacity ammunition magazines. His administration is also reviewing other proposals, including mental health and school-safety initiatives, as part of a comprehensive agenda.

The gun industry has long opposed an assault weapons ban, and that measure will probably face high hurdles in Congress. A previous federal assault weapons ban — which prohibited the manufacture for civilian use of 19 models of semiautomatic weapons, including certain rifles and shotguns — passed in 1994 and expired in 2004.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) plans to introduce legislation this month to reinstate and stiffen the ban. Her proposal would expand the classification of assault weapons, banning the sale and manufacture of about 120 firearms, including semiautomatic rifles and military-style pistols.

Obama has said he supports Feinstein’s efforts, although it is unclear whether he would throw his weight behind her bill or push a different proposal.

“The president has been clear that Congress should reinstate the assault weapons ban and that avoiding this issue just because it’s been politically difficult in the past is not an option,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said in a statement Friday. “He’s also stressed that no single piece of legislation alone can solve this problem, which is why he has asked Vice President Biden to explore a wide array of proposals on topics ranging from gun laws to mental health to school safety.”

William Branigin contributed to this report.

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

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