With gun control dominating discussions in Washington, Vice President Joe Biden participated in an MSNBC roundtable on the subject on Thursday. His appearance capped off a string of appearances made by top White House players this week on gun violence.
Despite an assault weapons ban now taking a backseat to universal background checks—Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., on Wednesday announced a bipartisan plan to expand background checks to nearly every commercial gun purchase—the vice president continued to advocate against assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
"Certain weapons of war just don't belong in the street," Biden said. He spoke to a group that included: Colin Goddard, a former Virginia Tech student who was shot during the massacre there in 2007 and is now assistant director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; Cedric Alexander, chief of police in Dekalb County, Ga.; Tina Wilson-Cohen, founder of She Can Shoot; and Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owner Association.
When the roundtable raised the issue of how to address assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in use and in circulation, Biden responded that the guns with high-capacity magazines used in many recent mass shootings were not already in use or circulation.
"They purchased them as they decided to engage in these—this absolutely irrational act," Biden said. "The mentally ill don't, all of a sudden say, 'I've had this high-capacity magazine for the last 20 years or the last two years or five years, I think I'll go and kill some people.'"
The vice president also lamented the country's changing gun culture, hearkening back to his childhood and how his father took pride in his guns, used for hunting, and how he had impressed upon Biden their danger and power.
"It used to be we were dealing almost exclusively with hunters," Biden said. "There is a whole new sort of group of individuals now ... that never hunt at all. But they own guns for one of two reasons: self-protection, or they just like the feel of that AR-15 at the range. They like the way it feels—it's like driving a Ferrari."
President Barack Obama spoke on Monday in Hartford, Conn., about the December shootings at Sandy Hook. On Tuesday, Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder held an event with law enforcement at the White House to implore lawmakers not to filibuster legislation. And first lady Michelle Obama urged Congress to act in a speech Wednesday night in Chicago.