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Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democratic elected officials used a conference in Connecticut on Thursday to press for new state and federal laws to curb gun violence.
“I say it’s unacceptable not to take this on,” Biden said, seeming to direct remarks at former Senate colleagues from states where the electorate may be more resistant to gun control measures than in Connecticut.
“What I say to my colleagues who will watch this and listen to this, I say to you: If you’re concerned about your political survival you should be concerned about the survival of our children, and guess what, I believe the price to be paid politically ... is to those who refuse to act,” Biden said. “There’s a moral price to be paid for inaction.”
Biden, appointed by President Barack Obama to be the administration’s point man on firearm issues, alluded to attention-grabbing statements he made Tuesday, when he suggested that people buy double-barrel shotguns for personal protection instead of more powerful assault weapons.
“There’s plenty of ways to protect yourself and recreate without an AR-15.” Biden said. “They say it isn’t about guns! They’re wrong, it is about guns!” said Biden, at times shouting and criticizing the National Rifle Association by name.
Speaking before Biden’s arrival, Connecticut’s Democratic senators, Richard Blumenthal and Christopher S. Murphy, used the conference as a launching pad of sorts for action when the Senate returns from recess next week. The event, at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, was held in response to December’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, about a dozen miles away, in Newtown.
“We approach go-time, and we are in the hour of decision in Washington, D.C.,” Murphy said. “Over the next several weeks, the committees of cognizance in the Senate will be reporting out legislation that we’re going to have a chance to vote on, and members are going to be making decisions on which side they stand: the side of the status quo and the gun lobby, or whether they stand on the side of change on the families who are represented here today.”
Blumenthal noted that the Sandy Hook massacre has changed the terms of the debate, even if Congress ultimately agrees on a narrow compromise.
“Let’s face another blunt truth: Preventing gun violence was thought to be untouchable politically two months ago. That unspeakable horror has given us unstoppable momentum and we must seize this story,” he said.