Vice President Joe Biden urged top law enforcement representatives from around the country to lobby for proposals designed to battle gun violence in the wake of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
“The president is absolutely committed to keeping his promise that we will act, and we will act in a way that is designed—even if, as he says, we can only save one life, we have to take action,” the vice president said.
“There’s some things we can immediately do, and we’re going to need your help," he told the law enforcement representatives. He underlined that he sees “no reason” why the assault weapons ban can’t pass the Congress.
Biden’s remarks came at the first meeting of the task force created by President Barack Obama to quell what he called an "epidemic" of deadly shootings. (Obama announced on Wednesday that Biden would lead the task force, highlighting the vice president’s leading role as senator in crafting the 1994 crime bill.) The president has charged the group with providing recommendations no later than January.
"We have to have a comprehensive way in which to respond to the mass murder of our children that we saw in Connecticut,” the vice president said, according to a pool report from Philip Rucker of the Washington Post.
“I’ve worked with some of you for a long, long time,” Biden continued. “We’ve worked on everything from cop-killer bullets to types of weapons that should be off the street. That’s what I want to talk to you about today. I want to hear your views, because for anything to get done we’re going to need your advocacy.”
Biden then booted reporters from the room, saying he wanted to have a “frank” conversation with his guests (see below for a list of law enforcement attendees).
Also attending the meeting were Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske. Senior Obama advisers Bruce Reed, Valerie Jarrett, Cecilia Munoz and Kathy Ruemmler were also in attendance.
“In the coming days and weeks, [Biden] will likely hear from gun-safety advocates and gun owners; mental health professionals and educators; faith and community leaders; local, state and federal elected officials; and any number of other people with valuable perspectives on the subject,” a White House official said.
Law enforcement representatives:
· Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Jon Adler, national president
· Fraternal Order of Police, Jim Pasco, executive director
· International Association of Chiefs of Police, Chief Walt McNeil, immediate past president (police chief, Quincy, Fla.)
· Major County Sheriffs’ Association, Sheriff Rich Stanek, president (sheriff, Hennepin County, Minn.)
· National Association of Police Organizations, Thomas Nee, president (police officer, Boston, Mass.)
· National Latino Peace Officers Association, Jaime Solis, Eastern regional vice president (federal officer, Locust Grove, Va.)
· National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, Chief Jim Johnson, chair (police chief, Baltimore County, Md.)
· National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, John Dixon, first vice president (police chief, Petersburg, Va.)
· National Sheriffs' Association, Tim Woods, director of government affairs
· National Troopers Coalition, Mathew Hodapp, chairman (trooper, New Prague, Minn.)
· Police Executive Research Forum & Major Cities Chiefs Association, Charles Ramsey, president (police commissioner, Philadelphia, Pa.)
· Police Executive Research Forum, Chuck Wexler, executive director