The mass shooting in Newtown put a range of issues on the table: access to weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, mental-health services, school safety, and law enforcement. The Biden effort’s goal is to think broadly across government agencies, consult stakeholders, then present recommendations to the president and Congress for quick action.
In Wednesday’s meeting, gun-control advocates agreed that the nation needs a new ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, a requirement that all gun purchasers submit to a background check, and improvements in law enforcement, according to news reports.
“There is a powerful consensus building in this country, which is reflected in the meetings of this task force,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement after the meeting. “We are having the conversation the American public wants us to have. Conversations are needed regarding assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and changing social norms, as well as the very important need for comprehensive background checks – supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans, including gun owners and NRA members."
The marquee event in Biden’s meetings will come Thursday, when a representative of the National Rifle Association (NRA) – the nation’s biggest and best-funded gun-owners’ organization – comes to the White House for the session with gun-rights groups.
“If there’s going to be fireworks, it’s going to be tomorrow,” says Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association, who is also coming to the meeting on Thursday.
Some gun-control advocates were unhappy that the NRA was included, but Mr. Feldman calls it a “win-win” for Biden and the NRA. It makes both look open-minded.
Top NRA official Wayne LaPierre made a rare public statement to the press a week after the Newtown massacre, and proposed the government fund the presence of an armed guard in every school. His body language did not suggest a willingness to meet gun-control advocates part way. A different NRA representative will attend the White House meeting on Thursday.