Biden sees support for universal background check for gun owners

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden, speaking Thursday at the start of a meeting with hunters, recreational shooters and wildlife interest groups, said the many organizations he has already consulted on gun control have raised similar approaches, including “universal background checks.”

“We realize this requires all the stakeholders to give us their best ideas to what is, as I said at the outset, a complicated problem. There is no single answer,” Biden said, according to media pool reports.

Biden also said he plans to give President Obama recommendations on gun policy by Tuesday.


“There is no conclusion that I have reached, and my colleagues and I are putting together a series of recommendations for the president,” he said. “I committed to him that I would have these recommendations to him by Tuesday. It doesn’t mean that this will be the end of the discussion, but the public wants us to act.”

Biden and other administration officials have met with an array of interest groups, including mental health professionals, law enforcement and clergy. He said there was a “surprising recurrence of suggestions” for “universal background checks, not just closing the gun show loophole.”

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Such a system would require a background check for every gun sale. Right now, background checks are not required in private sales by unlicensed dealers, including transactions conducted at gun shows.

Other oft-mentioned recommendations include dealing with high-capacity magazines and confronting limitations on the federal government’s ability to do research on gun violence.

Since the mid-1990s, Congress has restricted gun violence research by federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. Biden said there was a need to gather information on “what kind of weapons are used most to kill people” and “what kind of weapons are trafficked weapons.”

Biden closed his public remarks by invoking the recent mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.

“In all my years involved in the issues, there is nothing that has pricked the consciousness of the American people, there is nothing that has gone to the heart of the matter more than the image people have of little 6-year-old kids riddled, not shot, but riddled, riddled, with bullet holes in their classroom,” he said.

“I’m not sure we can guarantee this will never happen again, but as the president said, even if we can only save one life, it would make sense,” Biden added. “And I think we can do a great deal without in any way imposing on and impinging on the rights of the 2nd Amendment.”

The vice president was set to meet with gun owners groups, including the National Rifle Assn., Thursday afternoon and representatives of the entertainment industry in the evening. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. was set to hold his own meeting Thursday afternoon with representatives of retailers, including Wal-Mart and Bass Pro Shops.


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