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Vice President Joe Biden: 'Moral price' to be paid for inaction on gun laws

4:12 PM, Feb 21, 2013   |    comments
Vice President Joe Biden (Photo: Charles Dharapak, AP)
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(USA TODAY) Vice President Biden warned Congress on Thursday that there is a "moral price to be paid for inaction" on revamping the nation's gun laws.

Biden's remarks came as he took his push for the Obama administration's gun-control proposal to a conference in Danbury, Conn., several miles from the site of mass shooting in Newtown more than two months ago that reignited a national debate on gun laws.

Before speaking at the forum Thursday, Biden met with the families of two victims of the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 children and six school employees dead.

The vice president also praised the Connecticut congressional delegation, local lawmakers and the state's residents for being among the most active in the gun debate since the Newtown tragedy.

"I think about all the courage you've shown," Biden said. "It's not too much to ask the political establishment - the members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, state legislators and governors to show some political courage too."

President Obama has relied on Biden to push his gun agenda, which includes a call for a ban on assault weapons, limiting the size of ammunition clips and expanding background checks.

First, Obama tapped Biden to come up with a set of recommendations that became the foundation of the gun policy reforms that the president unveiled last month. In recent weeks, Biden, has been at the center of the White House's public push for the agenda.

Biden said when Obama asked him to be his point man on the hot-button issue he suggested there could be a political price to pay for jumping headfirst into the issue.

"He said, 'Look Joe you don't have to do this if you don't want to,'" Biden recalled. "The way he said it was a reflection of what the standing assumption in American politics is today. That this is kind of a third rail in politics. That if you take this on there's going to be a severe political price to pay...That's what happened in the past."

Connecticut has begun its own push to tighten gun laws at the state level.

At Thursday's forum, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy announced his own legislative plan, which includes calls for a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, requiring background checks for the transfer of any firearm and expanding the state's assault weapons ban.

"Two months ago, our state became the center of a national debate after a tragedy we never imagined could happen here," Malloy said. "We have changed. And I believe it is now time for our laws to do the same."

Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY

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