Biden warns legislators: 'Country has changed' on gun violence
June 18th, 2013
03:19 PM ET
2 years 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. The Real Tom Paine

    -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.
    **********************
    Wow. A few dozen? You could take a sample of conservative posts on the Internet, and you would have exceeded your estimate. By the way, how is it that a third of the population of theis country owns guns? Even the NRA in its wildest dreams does not make that kind of idiotic claim. It would be far better if LaPierre, Ted Nugent and the other gun fetishists admitted they simply don't want a nation of laws, and that they want a free-for-all. Gun violance is not a problem of the mentally ill, its the fact that we glorify and romanticise weapons, granting them almost mythical status. They make it far easier for us to kill each other, and anyone who says otherwise is a fool.

    June 18, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  2. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    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?
    -----
    Biden is an insurance policy for not getting rid of Obama.
    The only thing needing change is your diapers.

    June 18, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. ellis

    The real Tom Paine the dems did the same thing but in healthcare.

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

    @The Real Tom Paine,

    I just posted it but since it may be moderated, simply Bing or Google "advertising food stamps in mexico" You should be able to do that because a PRE-SCHOOLER can, right? Can't wait to hear you attempt to defend this.

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

    -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!!!
    ****************
    By the time the GOP is done shooting itself in the foot again, they will hand over control of the House to the Democrats with a ribbon tied around it. Remember how confident the GOP was 18 months before the last election? Remember the result?

    June 18, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Since Obama took office the debt has increased over $6 trillion. That's more than it increased unedr Bush in two full terms.

    June 18, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  7. Steveo

    @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.
    -----------------
    You're not real big at reearching are you? Capitalism is a part of the reason. The other reason is the government has being buying up ammo. Look it up!

    June 18, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. Guy

    Biden must be starting the CHANGE THE SUBJECT TOUR.
    Things are so bad for Obama and Biden that they bringing up the issue they totally bungled several months ago.
    Too bad for them, the IRS, NSA, AP, Benghazi, etc. scandals are not going to go away.

    June 18, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. JOSE--USMC-0311

    Go after the criminals, not the gun law abiding citizens...Chicago finally got it right, they are going after the gangs and maybe allowing lawbiding citizens to carry a gun for protection..

    June 18, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. Truth

    Joe, you are right about one thing; your party WILL pay the price in '14...

    June 18, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. Steveo

    @The Real Tom Paine
    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.
    -----–
    Daily Caller 7/19/2012
    Research and read it for yourself! Let me know when you or that pre-schooler is ready to refute me!

    June 18, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. huxleyhofmann

    Yeah it's gang members that go into schools, movie theaters, work places, etc causing these mass shootings. You guys are really on top of it. Just say what you really mean, you don't like poor minorities.

    June 18, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. george

    The mentally ill have a right to defend themselves too. They are not second class citizens. Or do you approve of gas chambers and execution camps for them.

    June 18, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  14. ron

    and miden and obama has done nothing to make the schools safer..they are to blame for newtown, the schools should have been secured after the colorado shootings...but they still have not done a things

    June 18, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. ron

    and BLOOMBURG, the new york mayor, is fillping the bill for that advertisement you see alll the time,,,the vidoe wiht the lady from colorado, telling about her son in colorado...bloomburg will use is money to dictate our lives and take away your rights..he is a nut case

    June 18, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. Data Driven

    @Steveo,

    "Daily Caller"

    LOL

    June 18, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Larry L

    @Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Since Obama took office the debt has increased over $6 trillion. That's more than it increased unedr Bush in two full terms.
    ==================================
    The bottom didn't fall out until the very end of the Bush debacle – that's when the bills came due. I know you people try to forget Bush, the unfunded, poorly-planed wars, the cut & spend economy, the sweetheart deals with Wall Street.

    June 18, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. Wake up People!

    @Fair.
    Ask your hubby about my underwear.... I guarantee he will know exactly how fresh and clean they are.

    You know that was hitting below the belt, but what can one expect from the Party of family values....

    June 18, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    -Steveo

    @The Real Tom Paine
    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.
    -––
    Daily Caller 7/19/2012
    Research and read it for yourself! Let me know when you or that pre-schooler is ready to refute me!
    *****************
    The Daily Caller? Seriously? Would you believe me if I cited MSNBC as an objective source? The Daily Caller was founded by Tucker Carlson, so I rest my case on your attempts to find real information, not affirmation.

    June 18, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  20. scarf

    I think both sides agree that guns should be kept out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. In general, there are only two ways of doing this: 1) make guns harder for anyone to get. 2) make guns harder just for the criminals and mentally ill to get. No reasonable person wants to go with #1. However, because they don't want to be inconvienced by background checks or higher taxes to track and treat the mentally ill, the gun enthusiasts don't want to go with #2. In short, the gun lobby doesn't want to do a damn thing to prevent gun tragedies. In their minds, the occasional school house massacre is the price we pay for our 2nd Amendment rights.

    June 18, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    -Steveo

    @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.
    -----–
    You're not real big at reearching are you? Capitalism is a part of the reason. The other reason is the government has being buying up ammo. Look it up!
    **************
    What other wonderfully biased source will you cite? I'm merely applying the same kind of logic a rightie would to the situation: its called " irony". My five year-old already pointed out the holes in your logic, junior. By the way, its " researching", not " reearching". Thanks for playing, though.

    June 18, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. BarryG

    Biden has to spout this nonsense, otherwise the Admin has absolutely nothing to expound on. However, letting the part time comedian Biden be on the forefront of anything is absolutely insane. He's a walking time bomb with a big mouth and a low IQ, a dangerous combination when speaking in public.

    June 18, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. Guygyl

    This nation needs total Gun-Ban laws. Period. Congress needs to be replaced. Idiots.

    June 18, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. Sam

    The dems are not going to be happy until they control everything and everyone idiots is not even the right word.....more like they are threat to our liberty

    June 18, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  25. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    They go after American citizens while arming the illegal mexican drug cartel.

    It's obvious which side the democrats are on.

    June 18, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
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