Biden concedes new laws won't end gun massacres

Friday, February 1, 2013 - 1:30pm

Vice President Joe Biden, who spearheaded the White House's effort to find ways of reducing gun violence, admitted to reporters Thursday that any measures passed by Congress would fail in totally eliminating gun deaths.

But attempts must be made, he said, particularly as Americans are demanding an answer from the government on how to end tragedies like the December massacre in Connecticut.

"Nothing we are going to do is fundamentally going to alter or eliminate the possibility of another mass shooting or guarantee that we will bring gun deaths down," Biden said after meeting with Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill. He was there to build support for gun control legislation currently making its way through Congress.

In December and early January, Biden led a panel assigned by President Barack Obama to look into the issue of gun violence. Using the group's recommendations, Obama proposed that Congress pass laws reinstating an assault weapons ban, limiting gun magazine capacity, and expanding the type of gun sales requiring background checks.

Democrats have said the background check measure would stand the best chance of garnering bipartisan support, including from some pro-gun Democrats.

At a congressional hearing Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said that he is in talks with colleagues -- including several who are ranked highly by the NRA -- on possible legislation to expand background checks on private gun sales.

Sources close to both Schumer and Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma told CNN the two were in serious discussions about co-sponsoring a bill to strengthen background checks.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, has proposed reinstating an assault weapons ban, which was in place for a decade beginning in 1994. It expired in 2004 and hasn't been renewed. Biden said Thursday that he "made the case not only for assault weapons but for the entire set of recommendations as the president laid out."

Biden told reporters Thursday he believed there has been "a sea change in attitudes of the American people" on guns following the December 14 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

"I believe that the American people will not understand, and I know everyone in that [Democratic] Caucus agrees with me, will not understand if they don't act," Biden said.

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