Sunday, April 22, 2018

Biden starts gun campaign by focusing on background checks

RICHMOND, Va. — The White House's campaign to mobilize public support for its sweeping gun-control proposals began in earnest here Friday, with Vice President Joe Biden saying, "We have an obligation to act — not wait."

Biden focused in particular on the administration's proposal to require universal background checks for all gun buyers, without mentioning additional plans to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Administration officials said the omission was not meant to imply a preference for one proposal over another.

Biden, accompanied by several Cabinet secretaries, as well as Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Rep. Robert Scott, D-Va., met privately at Virginia Commonwealth University for more than two hours with officials who led the response to a 2007 mass shooting at another college, Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

The discussion focused almost exclusively on background checks — seen as the most likely of President Barack Obama's four major legislative proposals to garner bipartisan support — as well as ways to strengthen mental health programs, according to two attendees who spoke to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity. One of those in attendance said proposed bans on assault weapons or high-capacity ammunition magazines came up briefly, while another said the subject did not come up at all.

In his remarks to reporters following the closed-door session, Biden said universal background checks would not infringe upon a law-abiding citizen's ability to buy a gun, but would merely help prevent criminals and other potentially dangerous people from obtaining weapons.

Biden's visit to Richmond was the first of many trips that he and Obama are expected to make to drum up support for their gun-related agenda, which includes universal background checks for all gun buyers, tougher gun trafficking laws and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

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