Biden concedes new laws won't end gun massacres
February 1st, 2013
11:02 AM ET
10 years ago

Biden concedes new laws won't end gun massacres

Washington (CNN) – Vice President Joe Biden, who spearheaded the White House's effort to find ways of reducing gun violence, admitted to reporters Thursday that any measures passed by Congress would fail in totally eliminating gun deaths.

Biden was speaking on Capitol Hill after meeting with Democratic lawmakers to build support for gun control legislation currently making its way through Congress. While he said no law could ever eliminate gun deaths, the vice president stressed that attempts must be made to prevent gun violence, particularly as Americans are demanding an answer from the government on how to end tragedies like the December massacre in Connecticut.

"Nothing we are going to do is fundamentally going to alter or eliminate the possibility of another mass shooting or guarantee that we will bring gun deaths down," Biden said, echoing remarks President Barack Obama made in January when he said "there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely."

In December and early January, Biden led a panel assigned by President Barack Obama to look into the issue of gun violence. Using the group's recommendations, Obama proposed that Congress pass laws reinstating an assault weapons ban, limiting gun magazine capacity, and expanding the type of gun sales requiring background checks.

Democrats have said the background check measure would stand the best chance of garnering bipartisan support, including from some pro-gun Democrats.

At a congressional hearing Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said that he is in talks with colleagues - including several who are ranked highly by the NRA - on possible legislation to expand background checks on private gun sales.

Sources close to both Schumer and Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma told CNN the two were in serious discussions about co-sponsoring a bill to strengthen background checks.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, has proposed reinstating an assault weapons ban, which was in place for a decade beginning in 1994. It expired in 2004 and hasn't been renewed. Biden said Thursday that he "made the case not only for assault weapons but for the entire set of recommendations as the president laid out."

Biden told reporters Thursday he believed there has been "a sea change in attitudes of the American people" on guns following the December 14 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

"I believe that the American people will not understand, and I know everyone in that [Democratic] Caucus agrees with me, will not understand if they don't act," Biden said.

Filed under: Gun rights • Joe Biden
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Ellen

    Then why pass them, unless it's only to penalize law-abiding gun owners, the majority of whom are conservative?

    February 1, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    No law will guarantee anything. Letting teachers pack concealed weapons doesn't guarantee anything, either. There are no guarantees in life, and only the most closed mindset thinks of everything in absolute terms. We really do need some common sense regulations that make it more difficult for people who shouldn't have guns, cannot get them as easily as they can today.

    February 1, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. Logic N LA

    This is not an excuse to not impose stiffer laws that will give law enforcement more power agianst those that use guns in crimes. And wth tougher background checks we may be able to weed out the potential shooters wit mental instability.
    Sane, rational gun owners have no worries.

    February 1, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  4. Tony in Maine

    Nothing short of the total confiscation of ALL guns would and no one is suggesting that. Because speeding laws don't prevent all speeding and drunk driving laws don't prevent all drunks from getting behind the wheel should we then rescind all traffic laws and just let the marketplace take over. He with the biggest car wins the demolition derby that follows...

    Sometimes it's very hard to argue with those too stupid not to see the obvious. That would include journalists and headline writers as well as rightwingnuts.

    February 1, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. GuestAgain

    And in a fleeting lapse of memory regarding the party agenda, Joe Biden slips up again and actually utters the truth!! Maybe hell is freezing over????

    February 1, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. Bill from GA

    Maybe Biden and the press are too much focused on these 'massacres'. Maybe they should focus more on the day-to-day killings in our violent country.

    There were at least 42 homicides in Chicago last month. Atlanta and other cities also have numerous killings. The numbers may be mostly going down, but there is so little attention paid to these killings compared to the few mass killings.

    We have Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), why not Families Against Senseless Killings. Does no one care?

    The media should publicize the statistics on these killings. Are they predominately black on black, as Ann Coulter and the right-wing media tell us? Is it mostly gang related? Or influenced by Hip Hop culture? ( Or are those two closely tied together?? ) Are the media afraid to offend those making money promoting these lifestyles?

    The media should focus more on these day-to-day killings, which result in more deaths. And the politicians should work on solutions to end or greatly reduce these day-to-day killings.

    February 1, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  7. Disgusted

    Really??? I guess Biden is smarter than he seems. At least on this issue, he is. But....lets all make a big deal out of gun control. Most of the gun deaths are not caused by automatic or semi-automatic guns. I would like to see what the percentage of gun deaths are caused by hand guns in the President's home town (with the high murder rate). Mr. Obama never tried to clean up Chicago, did he?

    February 1, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  8. Padraig

    The illegal activity will still continue with licensed & unlicensed gun dealers and the criminal element purchasing them. What Obama and Biden wants to do will not and never stop the illegal dealings.

    All this really comes down is politicians pandering to the public.

    You first need to stop the gangs, drug dealers, theives, etc... Then you may have a chance.

    February 1, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  9. ja

    the bottom line is across the globe violence is glorified, in many venues, and intolerance is higher than ever

    February 1, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    Hey, Ellen. As a law-abiding gun owner, I have no problem with trying to come up with viable solutions by keeping the conversation going. Neither do my conservative law-abiding gun owner friends. Then again, we don't live in a world filled with doom and gloom paranoia. Nor are we trying to hide something which in all likelihood isn't quite legal. We are, however, all for background checks and shutting down private sales of guns and ammo.

    I suppose we could also blame the NRA for not acting sooner in its efforts to keep track of all those violent "criminals" ready to invade our homes and our bodies by not allowing for background check lists. Can't give the "good" rights without giving the "bad" those same rights.

    It may just be me, but handing out "scary looking weapons" to protect us from the bad guys probably isn't the answer.

    February 1, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. Tony

    Ellen, new abortion restrictions do not end all abortions, but that does not mean that Republicans don't try to pass more restrictions. Laws against murders do not end all murders, but that does not mean that we should not have laws against murders. Just because there are no perfect solutions to some problems does not mean that we should not try to address the problems.

    February 1, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. sonny chapman

    The ACTUAL "sacrifice" that is being asked of the Gun Owners Community, to ban Assault Rifles & large capacity clips, is miniscule. The IMAGINARY threat, CONFISCATION, being pushed by the NRA, is huge. Gun Owners, stick to reality & don't be buffaloed into acting like Wild Banshees.

    February 1, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Disgusted wrote:

    I would like to see what the percentage of gun deaths are caused by hand guns in the President's home town (with the high murder rate). Mr. Obama never tried to clean up Chicago, did he?
    No, the NRA came into Chicago and cleaned it up. The NRA successfully repealed Chicago's handgun ban, and violence has since exploded. The NRA claimed that visitors to Chicago should not be forced to suffer the city's strict gun law.

    But, you asked for numbers so here's some for you. Around 20% off all gun homicides in Chicago are commited with weapons purchased from just ONE STORE, located a few miles outside of Chicago city limits where the strict gun laws do not apply.

    February 1, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. sonny chapman

    Yes, "Feel Good" legislation often leaves you unsatisfied. But it's at least a tribute to those who have been killed or wounded by gun slaughter since George W. let the 1994 Ban lapse. It says WE'RE TRYING.

    February 1, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. Bob_lawbla

    From what I read and the people I speak with, most Americans are not "demanding an answer from the government".

    It seems to me that the government is demanding that Americans blindly agree to the legislation they think we want.
    How about focusing on the economy and jobs?

    February 1, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  16. David

    Many oppose new gun laws, because
    this is not about Guns, It is about American Rights and Freedom.
    Real Patriots Die for Freedom!
    Live Free or Die!

    February 1, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. David

    Gun laws put law abiding citizens at an unfair disadvantage to the criminals who do not abide by these restrictive laws.
    You are not allowing for a fair defense, when the victim has one hand tied by gun laws and a criminal has all the choices.

    February 1, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. GuestAgain

    Build a statue if you want a tribute. I'll keep my guns, my freedom and my rights thank you.

    February 1, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. Wake up People!

    While I kind of agree with Bill from GA that there is a lot of crime and murder in our inner cities, however no one cares about that except us that have to live in it. To say the media doesn't publicize it is very untrue. Please don't pretend that most conservatives are concerned about it, they aren't. Well maybe except to comment on how happy they are that we are killing one another. Some of the comments I read should never be published. That said, in each and every massacre, not one has been committed by codename "thugs". There were no "thugs" at Columbine, Adam Lanza wasn't a "thug", neither was the Aurora shooter or the one that shot Congresswoman Giffords. I guess what I'm saying is, you and I both know no one cares when black males are killed, if they did people wouldn't work so hard turning the victim into the criminal like they did in that southern state I won't mention. These murders are committed by predominately white males, so why mention inner city murders, except for deflection?

    February 1, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. Stephen in VA

    Duh–traffic laws don't eliminate auto accidents either. But just imagine how many more accidents we'd have if it weren't for traffic laws.

    February 1, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. J Russ

    constitution say the federal government cannot infringe........doesn't mean the states or cities or counties can't. all we need is a constitutional scholar in charge

    February 1, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  22. jeff

    People are demanding "JOBS", but that's not high on the list!!!

    February 1, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. sonny chapman

    Hey Guest Again, thanks for being so willing to sacrifice so much. Thank God you weren't the American Mindset at the start of WW II. Hitler was actually counting on that.

    February 1, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. ST

    Has Biden already been attacked by dementia. Any good leader once starts any combat measures never give up or get scared on the way whether he will be successful or not. It is all about giving confidence to people even if you do know by heart that it will be hard. Letting those you are leading know that you are skeptical, cancels all the efforts been put in.

    February 1, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    David wrote:

    Gun laws put law abiding citizens at an unfair disadvantage to the criminals who do not abide by these restrictive laws.
    How so? Seriously, what disadvantage are you speaking about? You make the false argument that while you cannot purchase something, but criminals would somehow still be able to do so. Where? Where would your criminals be able to purchse them? Please, explain this and convince us how this would work.

    February 1, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
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