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White House ramps up talks on gun control measures

The Obama administration is making a big push this week to gather ideas for a comprehensive plan to curb gun violence, amid reports that the Vice President Biden-led task force is homing in on a host of gun control measures. 

Biden plans to meet Wednesday with gun safety organizations and gun violence victims' groups, a White House aide told Fox News. The next day, he plans to meet with gun ownership groups as well as advocates for sportsmen. 

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed Tuesday that the National Rifle Association was invited -- the NRA later confirmed to Fox News that they will be sending a representative. Biden has also scheduled a meeting with representatives from the entertainment and video game industries. 

The administration has vowed, by the end of the month, to produce a comprehensive plan for addressing gun violence in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting massacre in which 20 children and six adults were killed. The administration says mental health and the entertainment industry also may be examined. 

But much of the discussion, and proposals from Democratic members of Congress, continue to center around gun control. 

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that President Obama was considering measures beyond reinstating a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. According to the paper, the task force is considering measures like universal background checks for gun buyers, a national gun database, strengthening mental-health checks and tougher penalties for people carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors. 

Asked Monday about the report, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated that Obama wants to "close the many loopholes in our background check system" and "supports congressional actions right away." 

Accelerated efforts to draft new gun control measures have alarmed gun rights groups, including the NRA, at the national and local levels. A separate last-minute effort to craft a restrictive semi-automatic weapon ban in Illinois was put on hold amid a tight deadline and intense opposition. On Capitol Hill, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is again pushing a renewal of the federal assault-weapons ban. 

But Congress is also slammed with a pressing set of deadlines regarding a host of fiscal issues -- the debt ceiling, automatic spending cuts and the federal budget itself. 

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, said the next round of fiscal deadlines will occupy the attention of Congress and push off the consideration of gun legislation for at least three months. 

"There will be plenty of time to take a look at their recommendations once they come forward," McConnell said of Biden's upcoming proposals during an interview Sunday on ABC's "This Week." 

Obama aides say the president still plans to act quickly on Biden's proposals. They worry that as the shock of the Newtown shooting fades, so, too, will the prospects that pro-gun lawmakers will work with the White House to tighten restrictions. 

"I believe most Americans would disagree with the idea that in the wake of what happened in Newtown, Conn., that we should put off any action on the issue of gun violence," Carney said Monday in response to McConnell's comments. "It's certainly not a sentiment the president supports." 

Biden's recommendations are likely to include proposals for legislation, as well as executive action Obama can sign into law without lawmakers' approval. 

The president already has called on Congress to reinstate a ban on military-style assault weapons, close loopholes that allow gun buyers to skirt background checks and restrict high-capacity magazines. While the president may consider additional gun control measures, he also has ordered his administration to examine ways to improve mental health coverage and consider cultural issues like violence in video games and movies. 

Pro-gun lawmakers on Capitol Hill have said any comprehensive effort to respond to the Newtown shooting must include more than just tighter gun control. 

In addition to Biden's meetings this week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will meet with parent and teacher groups, while Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will meet with mental health and disability advocates.

The White House said other meetings are also scheduled with community organizations, business owners and religious leaders. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.