Biden Offers Glimpse of Gun Control Plan Coming in Days

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WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will present President Obama with proposals for stemming gun violence by Tuesday, setting in motion legislative and executive actions that will encompass guns, ammunition, mental health services and violent images in popular culture.

"I have committed to him I will have his recommendations to him by Tuesday," Mr. Biden said Thursday as he began meetings with sportsman and hunting groups to discuss the gun issue.

Mr. Biden did not say whether he would recommend a renewal of the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. But he cited several other measures, including efforts to limit the availability of high-capacity magazines and the need for what he called "near universal background checks" that would go beyond doing checks at gun shows.

"There has got to be some common ground, to not solve every problem but diminish the probability" of other mass shootings, he said. "That's what this is all about. There are no conclusions I have reached."

Mr. Biden also hinted that the package of proposals would address the ability of the federal government to do research on gun violence, comparing the limits on federal data gathering to restrictions on the government's ability to study traffic fatalities in the 1970s.

He said the government needed the ability to find out "what kind of weapons are used most to kill people" and "what kind of weapons are trafficked weapons."

Even as Mr. Biden spoke, news organizations reported that a student had been shot at a California high school. The shooting took place at Taft Union High School in Kern County, near Bakersfield, and the gunman was taken into custody, officials said.

Gun owners and their advocates, including the National Rifle Association, got a chance on Thursday to register their objections to Mr. Obama's promise of broad new legislation that seeks to curb gun violence in the wake of the school massacre in Connecticut last month.

Representatives of hunting and sportsman groups met around noon with Mr. Biden, who has been directed by the president to come up with a package of legislation and executive action. Mr. Obama has publicly backed a renewed ban on assault-style weapons, restrictions on high-capacity magazines and expanded background checks for gun purchases.

The top lobbyist for the N.R.A. participated in a meeting later in the afternoon that included other groups representing gun owners. The meetings were a preview of an intense clash between the administration and opponents of tougher gun control measures.

After the meeting, the N.R.A. issued a blistering statement accusing the White House of having an "agenda to attack the Second Amendment."

In the statement, the group said it was surprised at how little the meeting addressed keeping children safe.

"While claiming that no policy proposals would be 'prejudged,' this task force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners -- honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans," the organization said. "It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen."

The group also suggested that it was done talking with the administration about proposals and would use its political muscle to block Mr. Obama's proposals.

"We will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of Congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works -- and what does not," the statement said.

In a statement Thursday morning, the N.R.A. had said it was willing to have discussions about "reasonable proposals and plans," but would listen to "real Americans all over the country that are hoping the N.R.A. is not going to compromise on any of the principles of the Second Amendment."

"We're willing to listen," the N.R.A. statement said, according to Politico.

In comments to supporters of gun control measures on Wednesday, Mr. Biden said the Obama administration was willing to listen, too. But he pledged that the president would not be dissuaded from proposals that would help curb violence and prevent more mass killings.

"The president is going to act," Mr. Biden said on Wednesday. "There is executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet."

The most high-profile and contentious issue facing the president on the gun issue is likely to be the question of whether to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, which was initially passed in 1994 but expired several years ago.

A push to build public support for that effort is being led by gun control groups, including one led by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and a new one formed by Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head during a meeting with constituents in her district.

But the effort will face intense opposition in Congress from the well-financed N.R.A. and its affiliated organizations. In particular, the lobbying will be aimed at Democratic and Republican lawmakers in rural districts where support for gun rights is strong.

In an interview with Brooklyn GOP Radio on Tuesday night, David Keene, the president of the N.R.A., accused Mr. Obama and Mr.Biden of being "disingenuous" in their efforts to reach out to gun owners and others in the gun debate.

"I think that they've seen this as an opportunity to go after the Second Amendment, which they've wanted to do for years, if not decades, and I think they're going to do everything they can to strip Americans of their right to keep and bear arms," Mr. Keene told the radio station.

Mr. Obama has said he will not simply seek new restrictions on guns and ammunition, but will also look for proposals to address concerns about mental health reporting and the impact of violent images in American culture.

The vice president was also expected to meet Thursday evening with representatives of the movie, television and video game industries. Some lawmakers have said they want to find ways to address the prevalence of violent images in games and movies that are available to children.

Among those at the meetings on Thursday was a representative of Walmart, the nation's largest gun retailer. David Tovar, the vice president for corporate communications at the company, said on Wednesday that the retailer had been "very purposeful about striking the right balance between serving hunters and sportsmen and ensuring that we sell firearms responsibly."

But a coalition of liberal organizations on Wednesday sent a letter to Walmart's chief executive asking the company to stop selling assault weapons.

"Assault weapons of all brands and models continue to adorn your shelves, from Sig Sauer M400s to Colt LE6920s," the letter says. "We know the horrific capacity of these weapons to wreak havoc on our communities because we have witnessed it firsthand. They have no place in our streets and in our homes, and we strongly insist that you honor your 2004 pledge to ensure they have no place in your stores either."

The groups, including SumOfUs.org, MomsRising, Courage Campaign and Change.org, will present petitions signed by almost 250,000 people, according to a spokesman for the organizations.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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