Obama Wants Urgent Action To End Gun Violence

Vice President Joe Biden is tasked with coming up with recommendations to stem gun violence. On Wednesday, he met with gun control advocates. Next he meets with backers of gun rights.

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Today, Vice President Biden holds another meeting on gun policy and this time he's talking to gun owners and gun sellers. The meeting will include the National Rifle Association and representatives from Wal-Mart, which is the nation's largest gun retailer. It's part of a White House effort to come up with new gun policies by the end of the month, as NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Vice President Biden has been talking to a wide variety of stakeholders in the gun policy debate. Yesterday, as he met with gun safety and victims groups at the White House, Mr. Biden said the administration wants urgent, immediate action.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: As the president said, if our actions result in only saving one life, they're worth taking. But I'm convinced we can affect the well being of millions of Americans and take thousands of people out of harm's way if we act responsibly.

LIASSON: The shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut galvanized the White House to push for more gun restrictions, but there's still a lot of resistance. The powerful National Rifle Association, which is sending a representative to today's meeting believes armed guards are the answer to violence at schools. Here's NRA head Wayne LaPierre at a press conference after the Newtown shootings.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CONFERENCE)

WAYNE LAPIERRE: The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

LIASSON: The Biden group is expected to come up with a menu of proposals for the president to announce in his State of the Union address.

BIDEN: And I want to make it clear that we are not going to get caught up in the notion unless we can do everything we're going to do nothing. It's critically important we act.

LIASSON: The president has already called for renewing the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and for closing the gun show loophole. But those will be tough to pass through Congress, so in addition to legislation, Mr. Obama also plans to move forward with new regulations and executive orders, which need no congressional approval. The White House is looking at the possibility of a national gun background check database and ways to keep mentally ill people from owning firearms.

Mara Liasson, NPR News, the White House.

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