Biden's nod to groundswell for tighter gun control
THE US Vice-President, Joe Biden, sees a growing consensus for universal background checks for gun buyers and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines.
''There is an emerging set of recommendations - not coming from me but coming from the groups we've met,'' Mr Biden said on Thursday as he started a meeting with groups representing hunters and wildlife organisations.
Mr Biden said he planned to deliver by Tuesday recommendations to the President, Barack Obama, for legislative and executive actions to stem firearms violence as part of the administration's response to last month's mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
The main weapon used in the shooting was a semi-automatic rifle modelled on a military weapon and the gunman was equipped with high-capacity magazines, police said. Most of the 20 children and six adults killed had been shot multiple times.
Mr Biden said he and other administration officials repeatedly heard, in meetings with gun-control advocates and representatives of victims, about the need for ''near universal background checks'' in firearms transactions, greater freedom for federal agencies to conduct research about gun crimes, and limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines.
Such proposals have long been opposed by the National Rifle Association, which took part in a meeting with Mr Biden on Thursday.
''I have a real tight window to do this,'' Mr Biden said. ''The public wants us to act.''
As Mr Biden spoke, a teacher and a student were shot and wounded at a high school in California's San Joaquin Valley. The injured student was in critical condition and another student was taken into custody.
After the meeting, the NRA released a statement accusing the White House of pushing ''an agenda to attack the Second Amendment'', rather than focusing on policies to improve safety for children.
''We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen,'' the NRA said.