WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden vowed urgent action Wednesday against gun violence in America, pledging steps by the Obama administration that he said could "take thousands of people out of harm's way" and improve the safety of millions more.
But a day ahead of a meeting with the National Rifle Association, which has sunk past gun-control efforts and opposes any new ones, Biden signaled that the administration is mindful of political realities that could imperil sweeping gun-control legislation, and is willing to settle for something less. He said the administration is considering its own executive action as well as measures by Congress, but he didn't offer specifics.
"I want to make it clear that we are not going to get caught up in the notion that unless we can do everything, we're going to do nothing," Biden told an array of gun-control advocates, crime victims and others at the White House. "It's critically important we act."
Shortly after last month's slaughter of schoolchildren at Newtown, Conn., President Barack Obama tasked Biden with heading a commission to come up with recommendations on gun policy by the end of this month. Obama supports steps including reinstating a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and closing loopholes that allow many gun buyers to avoid background checks.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says some 40 percent of gun sales are made without background checks, such as at gun shows and online.
Biden also held a call Wednesday with more than 30 governors, mayors and other state and local officials to get their input on ways to curb gun violence.
Today brings a tougher audience when the NRA joins a White House meeting with other gun-owner groups and retailers.