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Biden broaches gun-trafficking statute, more mental health aid

- The Washington Times - Friday, January 11, 2013

Vice President Joseph R. Biden hinted Friday that a federal weapons trafficking statute and more readily available mental health assistance could be included in a set of recommendations to address gun violence in the country that he plans to deliver to President Obama by a self-imposed Tuesday deadline.

Speaking publicly before a private meeting with representatives of the video game industry, Mr. Biden told them they weren't been "singled out" for help.

"The end result of this [process] is I am going to be making a recommendation not as a consequence of long, drawn-out hearings, which are useful, but because there's an awful lot of research and material that's been lying around over the last 10 years in the various agencies from recommendations on having a ... federal weapons trafficking statute to universal background checks to making more widely available mental health assistance," he said.

Mr. Obama tapped Mr. Biden to head his task force on how to address gun violence in the wake of the shooting rampage in which 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month.

The vice president also said Friday he plans to meet with technology experts, noting that technology exists to prevent guns being fired by more than one individual person. While noting its high monetary cost, he said that if it was available on every gun sold, it could have affected the outcome in Connecticut, where police said Adam Lanza used his mother's arsenal to first kill her and then commit the murders at the school.

Mr. Biden met this week with gun safety and gun ownership groups, sportsmen and wildlife organizations, and representatives of the movie industry. Attorney General Eric Holder also met with representatives from retailers and sporting goods stores that sell guns and ammunition.

Mr. Biden described the meeting with gun ownership groups, which included the National Rifle Association, as "straightforward" and "productive." The NRA had blasted the meeting as too focused on attacking the Second Amendment and not enough on increasing safety.

Mr. Biden said, though, the voices in that meeting Thursday were not monolithic.

"It's not a uniform view," he said.

After that meeting, he hosted representatives from the entertainment community Thursday evening.

"The entertainment community appreciates being included in the dialogue around the administration's efforts to confront the complex challenge of gun violence in America," a group of six organizations, including the Motion Picture Association of America, said after their Thursday meeting. "This industry has a longstanding commitment to provide parents the tools necessary to make the right viewing decisions for their families. We welcome the opportunity to share that history and look forward to doing our part to seek meaningful solutions."

Over the course of the week, Mr. Biden has provided hints at what might come in the package of specific recommendations. On Wednesday, he said Mr. Obama could act unilaterally on the issue. And on Thursday, he said the groups he's met with have coalesced around several specific ideas, including a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, universal background checks for gun buyers, and more federal research on gun violence.

In addition to a number of video game manufacturers, also participating in Friday's meeting were a consultant for the video game industry and the leader of a government-funded study on the effects of video games on young teenagers.

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