Biden warns legislators: 'Country has changed' on gun violence
June 18th, 2013
03:19 PM ET
10 months ago

Biden warns legislators: 'Country has changed' on gun violence

(CNN) - In remarks Tuesday touting the Obama administration's progress in addressing gun safety, Vice President Joe Biden vowed to revisit gun control legislation that failed in the U.S. Senate earlier this year, and warned legislators that the political climate shifted after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last December.

"The one thing that each of us have been saying to our colleagues about these votes is the country has changed," Biden said. "You will pay a price, a political price for not – for not getting engaged and dealing with gun safety."

Before the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Biden said the minority of Americans who were opposed to gun control legislation had earned outsized power by turning up in high numbers to vote in congressional elections.

"Now those people who support rational safety measures say this will be a defining issue for me," Biden said in remarks at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. "For the first time a clear majority of those who favor rational proposals say it will matter. It will make a difference in who I vote for. That's a fundamental change in the political calculus out there."

Citing polls that showed some moderate Democrats who supported the legislation that was backed by the president and vice president saw their approval ratings back home increase, Biden said that in recent weeks he's heard from legislators who opposed the legislation asking for another chance to vote on the issue.

"I'm optimistic because I've gotten those phone calls from those members of congress, many of whom voted no, saying can you find a way, can you find a way, can you find a way for us to revisit this, and so that's exactly what we're going to be doing," the vice president said.

Weeks after the mass shooting in Newtown, President Barack Obama issued 23 directives aimed at curbing the threat of gun violence. In his remarks, Biden unveiled a progress report that the administration says shows it is on its way to meeting nearly all of the goals the president set in January as part of that effort.

"Although we have yet to succeed in the House and Senate, but we will, he moved forward on what was within his power, what Executive Actions he could take," Biden said. "And today I can report that he announced 23 Executive Actions, 21 of them have been completed or there's been major progress made toward the total completion."

The mostly administrative steps span several federal agencies, and the majority require no approval from Congress.

For instance, the report touts action taken by the Health and Human Services Department to begin the process of reviewing healthcare privacy laws for any barriers preventing from reporting information about people with health problems that might prohibit them from purchasing guns.

The Justice Department proposed a new rule that would allow law enforcement to run full federal background checks on the owners of guns seized as part of an investigation. Officers currently are required to return seized firearms but are prohibited from running background checks on owners.

In an effort to spur new research on the causes of gun violence, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council issued a report this month recommending the pressing research questions.

Obama is calling on Congress to provide $10 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct gun violence research, an area that has been stalled in recent years due to its political implications.

"Why are we afraid of information?" the vice president asked, challenging critics of scientific research into gun violence. "An informed society should not be afraid of the facts."

On a conference call previewing Biden's remarks, a senior administration official said that while the report represents "significant progress," the administration continues to hold discussions with members of Congress in the hopes of getting legislation passed.

"These unilateral executive actions are in no way a replacement for concrete legislative action, which is why we're engaged in so many conversations with members of Congress, why we're engaged in trying to strengthen the political dynamics of the situation where we can actually have legislation that will tighten and strengthen background checks," the official said.

The vice president took a more emotional approach to the administration's lobbying efforts on Tuesday.

"Ladies and gentleman, since Newtown more people have died at the end of a gun than we have lost in Afghanistan. Pretty astounding," Biden said. "Pretty astounding. And Iraq as a matter of fact, over 5,000. That's no way to run a country. The public knows it."

Of the two Executive Actions the administration has failed to follow through on, the report predicts one will be fulfilled by the end of the year while the other is held up by congressional inaction.

As part of implementing the healthcare law championed by Obama, the report says HHS will finalize regulations later this year detailing how certain existing group health plans must cover mental health benefits, fulfilling the president's directive.

The last unfinished action may be a bit more difficult.

On the same day he rolled out his plans to reduce gun violence, the president also announced his plans to nominate B. Todd Jones to serve as the permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"Congress needs to help, rather than hinder, law enforcement as it does its job," Obama said in January. "We should get tougher on people who buy guns with the express purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals. And we should severely punish anybody who helps them do this. Since Congress hasn't confirmed a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in six years, they should confirm Todd Jones, who will be – who has been acting [director], and I will be nominating for the post."

Five months after his nomination was announced, Jones sat down for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it has yet to vote on his nomination.


Filed under: Gun control • Joe Biden
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    I was watching Piers Morgan last night and he had a family on who turned their son into the police because he was mentally unstable and they found a receipt in his room of the purchase of an assault rifle. As hard as that might be for a parent to do, it was the right thing. Mental health is a big part of this debate we're having, but let's not fool ourselves and turn a blind eye to the loopholes in gun legislation and magazine capacity. I think it's clear that their won't be an assault weapons ban, but I think it's also clear that extended magazines & "extensive" background checks(especially for the mentally unstable) are things we can get passed. But fair warning to you politicians who voted against this legislation the first time around then turn around and vote in favor of it. We will make you pay next November. You serve the American People, not the gun lobby!!!

    June 18, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  2. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Yeah Biden and you're not a buffoon, right?

    June 18, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  3. PaulG

    I wish uncle joe the clown would give this tired agenda a rest. Americans are against additional gun control and can see through the progressive dem lies.

    June 18, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. Howard

    I will not vote for any politician that votes in favor of the gun legislation in it's present form. Guns are not the problem, people are! The guns do not fire until the trigger is pulled and that takes a person to do it. I am a law-abiding gun owner and refuse to be categorized with these maniacs that are committing these horrible crimes! Parents need to be involved with their children instead of letting TV and video games raise them!

    June 18, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. NotYoDaddy

    And you will pay the same price if you do.

    June 18, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  6. Crazy Joe

    I think his hair plugs have finally reached the brain.

    June 18, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. Randal Flag

    I am all ready paying the price. I can't afford to buy ammo, assuming I can find it. I have not been to the range in months.
    De-fact o Gun control

    June 18, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. Peoples State of Illinois

    I haven't changed my opininon. I hate the tragedies that occur, but taking the guns away or putting extreme limitations on them, will do absolutely nothing to stop a tragedy from occurring. When the government gets all the guns away from all the criminals, then I'll think about giving up all but my hunting rifle.

    June 18, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  9. schaz

    Nobody I know disagrees that "rational" gun control measures are necessary. The question is what is "rational".

    California is trying to ban a large percentage of the firearms owned in the state and, put an onerous tax on ammunition, ban all lead ammunition for hunting. The Democrat super majority in the legislature and state senate claim that these are all "rational" measures. Gun owners whom I know, disagree.

    June 18, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. MrSatyre

    "The one thing that each of us have been saying to our colleagues about these votes is the country has changed," Biden said. "You will pay a price, a political price for not – for not getting engaged and dealing with gun safety."

    Wow. Yet another Biden-ism. The Democrats have only themselves to blame whenever he opens his mouth. The fantasy land he lives in is truly a fascinating one. How someone can so consistently take facts and turn them on their heads to serve himself and his agenda of control of the masses and restrictions or abolishment of civil liberties is astounding. If he were just a regular schmoe, I'd say he's as out there as Lyndon LaRouche or Rush Limbaugh or Diane Feinstein or Michelle Bachman. But unfortunately for us, he's not. He's second in command. It's a real pity they don't administer psychological evaluations of political candidates before, during and after running for office. Wait! They administer those to police officers and Federal agents, and they still regularly kill innocent people and commit felonies regularly, just like politicians. Go figure.

    June 18, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  11. TheWheelsFallOff

    Sure, Biden, sure... when you can get more than 40 votes from the SENATE on most of the legislation – then you will have some new laws that won't make any difference in mass shootings. But until then, there will be no new gun law legislation... Simply put, the ones wanting new laws know next to nothing about guns and simply ignore the reality that it is really a mental health law issue – not a gun law issue.

    June 18, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. PaulG

    @Howard
    We as a nation need to address how we deal with the mentally ill (pulling the trigger), clearly what we are doing isn't working.

    June 18, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. TheTruth

    "Obama is calling on Congress to provide $10 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct gun violence research, an area that has been stalled in recent years due to its political implications."
    The FBI has been doing this since the fifties, and the CDC itself states that it's not competent to do such research, which falls outside of its mission.
    Let the FBI deal with crime, the CDC deal with disease.

    June 18, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. Ed

    We would get a lot more progress on ending senseless killings if the anti-gun people and the politicians like Biden would simply acknowledge that the real problem is a few dozen seriously mentally ill people and maybe a couple thousand gang leaders across the whole country, and not a hundred million law abiding gun owners.

    June 18, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    -Steveo

    @Richard Long

    Win/win for the democrats:
    If amnesty passes, you have add 11 million democrats.
    If amnesty fails, you can blame the Republicans.
    Who gets screwed in the end U.S. Legal citizens.
    ----–
    BINGO! It is ALL about potential votes and not about law enforcement! No one can tell me I am wrong ESPECIALLY since this admnistration is advertising American assistance programs (FOOD STAMPS) in Mexico, a country that has no such program!
    *****************************
    Give an example of where these adds are being posted and who they are targeting in Mexico, or admit you suffer from rampant paranoia. Throwing out irresponsible claims that a pre-schooler could refute is a waste of your time, not mention ours.

    June 18, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  16. anonymous

    Democrats.... hell bent on taking guns away from people that are not the problem. Focus on identifying all of the mentality ill in this country and create a big database of them. The government seems good at tracking everybody lately and creating big database right? How about you do it where it will do some good?

    June 18, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    -Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Yeah Biden and you're not a buffoon, right?
    ****************
    Apparently a buffoon has more sense than a rightie schill. Your dislike of the VP aside, what do you have to contribute to the conversation beyond expanding the hole on the Ozone layer?

    June 18, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. just sayin

    sure looks like biden wants the democrats to lose those 9 senate seats held by democrats in red states! way to go joe! keep up the good work uncle crazy!!!

    June 18, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  19. jimmy cracorn

    Freedom has a price and you have to ask yourself if having the freedom to own an assault weapon or 30 round clip is worth it for the good and bad it brings. I think it is. I would pay any price to keep as much freedom as I can. The reality is not everyone feels that way. I guess we'll find out though.

    June 18, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  20. plain&simple

    Why do people equate background checks for mental illness with taking their guns away??? Paranoia??? Is that the reason? It's a mental illness.

    June 18, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Steveo

    Just after Katrina, officials in New Orleans took weapons from LEGAL, registered owners! Guess what? the "BAD" guys STILL had them! Law abiding citizens could not even defend themselves, their families or their property! Chicago has some of the strictest gun control laws in this country yet 8 were killed and 46 were wounded this past weekend and yet they are "touting" success? Gangs will always have guns, drug dealers will always have them!

    June 18, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. The Real Tom Paine

    -MrSatyre

    "The one thing that each of us have been saying to our colleagues about these votes is the country has changed," Biden said. "You will pay a price, a political price for not – for not getting engaged and dealing with gun safety."

    Wow. Yet another Biden-ism. The Democrats have only themselves to blame whenever he opens his mouth. The fantasy land he lives in is truly a fascinating one. How someone can so consistently take facts and turn them on their heads to serve himself and his agenda of control of the masses and restrictions or abolishment of civil liberties is astounding. If he were just a regular schmoe, I'd say he's as out there as Lyndon LaRouche or Rush Limbaugh or Diane Feinstein or Michelle Bachman. But unfortunately for us, he's not. He's second in command. It's a real pity they don't administer psychological evaluations of political candidates before, during and after running for office. Wait! They administer those to police officers and Federal agents, and they still regularly kill innocent people and commit felonies regularly, just like politicians. Go figure.
    ***************
    Every person you listed is fringe figure that subscribes to some wacked-out consiracy theory(ies) to help them push a bizarre world view: has anything that Biden said regarding this topic smack of a conspiracy, like the Freemasons? Nope. Not even close.

    June 18, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  23. California Gary

    So if all you gun supporters think it's a mental health issue........should we have everyone who wants to own a gun go through a mental health examination? If you pass, you can purchase whatever gun your little heart desires.....but if you fail, no guns for you? Based on some of the comments I see on this issue, I suspect a number of you wouldn't pass such an evaluation.

    June 18, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  24. dplandry

    Biden is such a moron and he's threatening senators! He's learning the chicago way!

    June 18, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. The Real Tom Paine

    Randal Flag

    I am all ready paying the price. I can't afford to buy ammo, assuming I can find it. I have not been to the range in months.
    De-fact o Gun control
    ************************
    Geez, the gun-hugger lobby is really punishing you by charging you more( its called capitalism). They get richer at your expense, and they increase the price every time another massacre happens. Do you want the government to intervene and lower the price for you? I'm sure that's big government the NRA would approve of.

    June 18, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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