Biden: Obama team not giving up on gun legislation

4:03 PM, Jun 18, 2013   |    comments
Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.
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David Jackson
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Biden said Tuesday the Obama administration will continue fighting for a "rational gun policy," more than six months after a mass killing at an elementary school and two months after a major reversal in Congress. 

"The president and I -- our team -- have not given up," Biden said in remarks at the White House.

Biden spoke just hours after the White House released a report, saying it has "completed or made significant progress" on 21 of 23 executive actions that Obama outlined on Jan. 16 as part of a major gun-control initiative.

Still, Biden said, "we need Congress to act."

The Senate blocked a background check bill in April, thanks mostly to the votes of Republicans. Obama administration officials and Senate Democrats are trying to revive the bill by pressuring senators who voted against it to reconsider.
Biden noted that the background check bill had majority support in the Senate, but ran afoul of filibuster rules that require "60 votes for everything." The vice president said some senators who voted to block a debate now wonder if that was "a prudent vote."

While he did not cite specific names, Biden noted that some senators have seen their approval ratings drop since their opposing gun vote in April.

"The country has changed" on the gun issue, Biden said, and opponents will "pay a political price" for opposition to legislation.
Obama, who had attended the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland, was en route to Berlin on a diplomatic trip as Biden spoke.

The White House report on Obama's executive actions said that "passing common-sense gun safety legislation, including expanding background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, remains the single most important step we could take to reduce gun violence."

In his remarks, Biden said, "We have yet to succeed in the House and Senate," but added that "we will."

Gun-control opponents say the proposals are ineffective and undermine the Second Amendment rights to gun ownership.
The Obama administration began pushing for new gun legislation after the Dec. 14 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 students and six educators.
It was the latest in a string of mass shootings. Stephen Barton, wounded during a shooting last July at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., introduced Biden at the White House event.
The new White House report listed the executive actions on guns taken by the administration.

Among them: ending a freeze on federal research into the causes of gun violence, reducing barriers that prevent states from submitting certain records to the existing background check system, and easing the ways in which federal law enforcement agencies can trace guns recovered in investigations.

The report did not mention two other legislative proposals backed by gun-control supporters: a new ban on assault weapons, and restrictions on the size of ammunition magazines. Neither proposal has sufficient support in Congress.
The White House report says the president's executive actions are designed to address several goals, including improvements to the existing background check system, law enforcement, and school safety, as well as to promote responsible gun ownership.

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