Biden: Obama may side-step Congress on parts of gun control agenda

6:45 AM, Jan 10, 2013   |    comments
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(CBS News) WASHINGTON - The shooting deaths of 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Conn., led President Barack Obama to promise action.

Senior administration officials tell CBS News President Obama is likely to unveil his new ideas to reduce gun violence next week. The president will also push his gun control agenda in his State of the Union address next month.

The president wants Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and extend criminal and mental health background checks to firearm sales at gun shows and through private dealers.

Vice President Joe Biden has devoted this week to hearing from all sides, including the National Rifle Association Thursday.

"We're here today to deal with a problem that requires immediate action, urgent action. And the president and I are determined to take action," Biden said.

He met today with victims of gun violence and gun control advocates and said the political climate will never be the same after the Newtown massacre.

"I've been doing this a long time. I can't think of all the tragic events we've endured. I don't think anything has touched the heart of the American people so profoundly as seeing those and learning of those young children not only being shot but riddled with bullets," Biden said.

The White House is also looking at ways to encourage gun owners to use and store their firearms more safely. It is reviewing the effectiveness of gun buy-back programs, seeing if a federal buy-back program might work.

Biden also said the president might side-step Congress and seek to advance his agenda through executive order. Senior officials offered no details, but they acknowledge there's very little the president can do to advance gun control without the consent of Congress.

Biden faces a difficult meeting with the NRA Thursday. Both sides said they're going to listen to each other, but CBS News spoke with senior administration officials who said they could not advance this agenda if they didn't invite sportsmen and NRA to Washington. NRA representatives said they had to come because if they denied this meeting, they would be outside and have no voice whatsoever.

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