WASHINGTON, January 9, 2013 — Vice President Joe Biden will meet with representatives from the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Thursday, January 10, as the head of President Obama’s task force on guns.
On Wednesday he sits down with gun-safety groups and victims of past shootings. It is part of his listening tour to hear all parties interested in reducing gun violence. The task force, which was created in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, is to return to the President by the end of this month with recommendations on how to prevent further mass shootings.
President Obama has described that day on December 14, when 27 people, including 20 small children, were slaughtered, as the worst day of his presidency. He has promised fast action on the task force’s recommendations.
The NRA, according to spokesman Andrew Arulanandam, accepted Biden’s invitation. “We are sending a rep to hear what they have to say,” said Arulanandam. Biden will meet with other gun-owner and sportsmen groups at the same time. This appears to be the first time that the Obama administration has reached out to the NRA.
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, explained that Biden was listening to all stakeholders in the gun violence discussion, and that includes “gun owners and groups that represent gun owners.”
Biden also plans to meet with representatives from the entertainment and video game industry, who have come under harsh criticism for their depictions of violence.
The NRA suggests that the way to stop such massacres is to put armed guards in all schools rather than impose new restrictions on guns. The guns rights organization considers new gun controls as both unconstitutional and ineffective.
The task force will also hear from other organizations. Arne Duncan, Education Secretary will be talking with parents, teachers and administrators; Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, plans to meet with mental health groups; and other Cabinet and White House staff members are setting up meetings with medical groups, children’s advocates and community leaders.
While President Obama supports renewing the assault weapons ban, restricting the size of ammunition clips, and more thorough background checks on gun buyers, he also stressed that the nation needs to look at mental health issues as well.
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