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VIDEO: Biden Honors Newtown Victims, Calls for Tighter Gun Control Laws

In an impassioned speech at a Connecticut university on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden discussed steps the federal government can take to reduce gun violence.

 

Standing before an audience of local, state and federal officials, Vice President Joe Biden delivered a stirring keynote address at a conference on gun violence that included family members of the 26 victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

“My heart goes out to you,” Biden said, noting that he met with several family members of the victims directly before his address and intended to meet with more afterwards. “I deeply, deeply admire your courage. This is not easy for you… to just be in this room.”       

The vice president, who served as the main speaker during a gun violence forum at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury on Thursday, Feb. 21, spoke about how he never had the courage that Newtown families had.

Having lost a daughter and wife in a car accident over three decades ago, Biden said he didn’t have the courage to do what these Newtown parents who lost their own children on Dec. 14 are doing — facing the tragedy.

“We can’t remain silent,” Biden said, his voice growing more audible throughout the WestConn community center, a handful of miles away from Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“We have to speak for all of those voices. We have to speak for those 20 beautiful children who died 65 days ago. We have to speak for those six adults who died protecting them,” he said. 

From there, the discussion turned to legislation and initiatives the federal government could take to help reduce gun violence, including implanting universal background checks, federal gun trafficking statutes and banning high-capacity magazines. 

Biden said that lawmakers need to show political courage in enacting sensible gun reforms and taking on the a “third rail of politics.”

"People say and you read and people write about the political risks (of gun control) and why they're unacceptable to take on," Biden said. "I say it's unacceptable not to take this on…and I say to my colleagues who will watch this and listen to this, I say to you if you're concerned about your political survival you should be concerned about the survival of our children." 

"America has changed on this issue," Biden said. "We all know the American people are with us…you all should know there's a moral price to pay for inaction." 

Biden said a ban on assault weapons had nothing to do with the Second Amendment, and there was no way to argue that a weapon like the AR-15 - one of the guns that Adam Lanza used in the Newtown shootings - was intended for self-defense or recreation.

"They say assault weapons like the AR-15 are needed for self-protection and recreation," he said. "They are not. There's plenty of ways you can protect yourself and recreate without an AR-15." 

Here are the gun control measures Biden said that he and President Barack Obama support:

  • Universal background checks: Every buyer needs to be vetted for the purchase of a firearm, as Biden said that 46 percent of guns purchased now don’t require background checks.
  • Improved records to allow states to track felons: There is no national database tracking those who served jail time or are not permitted to possess firearms. Biden suggested instituting such a system so that if a convicted felon from Montana tries to buy a gun in Connecticut, that person’s felony status will come up during the purchasing process.
  • Eliminating high-capacity magazines that hold 30-100 rounds: Biden said there is “no rational reason why someone would need to carry a 100-round drum like the Aurora shooter carried.”
  • Federal gun trafficking statutes:  “Making sure prosecutors can go after the so-called straw purchases," Biden said.
  • Increasing mental health services: Biden said this should especially be for young people between ages 16 and 25, who are “the most vulnerable to mental health problems.” 
  • More sworn law enforcement officers on the streets.
  • Studying what effects violent videogames and media has on youth.
Sanchez February 23, 2013 at 03:42 PM
"Biden Honors Newtown Victims, Calls for buying shotguns and to go outside and fire off 2 blasts."
Edmund Burke February 23, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Do not pass go, go directly to jail! Gotta love Slow Joe.
Sanchez February 23, 2013 at 04:06 PM
I do question why the writer of this article saw fit to not quote Crazy Uncle Joe when he stated as a fact, “No law-abiding citizen in the United States of America has any fear that their constitutional rights will be infringed in any way,” he said. “None. Zero.” This is proof the man is delusional and unfit for office.
Thomas Paine February 23, 2013 at 11:15 PM
I guess Joe-just-being-Joe did not get the literal memo from the Justice Department last month that concluded that the majority of the things he, Obama and Gov Malloy are calling for have proven ineffective in the past and will likely be as equally ineffective in the future. http://wilton.patch.com/blog_posts/justice-department-says-assault-weapon-band-and-magazine-limits-wont-make-a-difference I could easily argue why the Armalite Rifle (the AR in AR15) is a better home defense firearm than any shotgun (including Joe's double barreled bird gun) and even most handguns. The amount of misinformation spewed by the Veep and the gun control lobby is dizzying and an under-informed or uninformed public does not know when they are being snookered. But more importantly, why is it that they continue to perpetrate the myth that the Armalite Rifle is such a menace to society when both the US Justice Department (see memo referenced above) and the Connecticut State Office of Legislative Research have discovered that the AR15 is not involved in many crimes and is also not involved in many mass killings? http://wilton.patch.com/blog_posts/mass-shooting-weapons-are-not-typically-black-rifles-nor-any-rifle I believe Gov Malloy brought forth his own bill in an effort to intimidate the Legislature because he realized that the public and the elected officials are indeed becoming better informed. That the Gov feels the moment of "crisis" slipping away and "going to waste".
Connecticut15 February 24, 2013 at 02:17 AM
Yes, Thomas Paine, the elected officials and the public is becoming better infomred nad the Gov must feel the moment of 'crisis' is slipping away. 11 teenagers die every day from texting and driving (according to the Insurance Insttute for HIghway safety and DOT, that's the equivalent of how many Sandy Hook's per month? ALmost 15 Sandy Hooks per MONTH. Where are these moms to address these senseless deaths and dangers on our roads? Is the death of the Norwalk father jogging along Rte 123 by the teenage driver texting last year any less horrific?
Sanchez February 24, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Mothers kill more of their own children that long guns do every year. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-offense-data

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