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Gun Violence Task Force to Send Recommendations to Obama by Tuesday


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, meets with sportsmen, wildlife groups, and members of the cabinet, Jan. 10, 2013.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, meets with sportsmen, wildlife groups, and members of the cabinet, Jan. 10, 2013.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden plans to send recommendations of a gun violence task force to President Barack Obama by next Tuesday. A Biden-led task force continued consultations with key interest groups, including the nation's largest gun rights organization and the entertainment industry.

After December's massacre of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school, Obama gave Biden the job of coming up with recommendations for action by the end of this month.

Biden said the task force has consulted with a broad array of groups -- law enforcement and legal organizations, victims groups, the medical community including mental health experts, education groups, civil rights groups and religious leaders.

At the White House Thursday were representatives of sports and wildlife organizations, and leaders of the U.S. movie, broadcast and video game industries.

Biden said gun violence is a complex issue with no single solution, but progress will require compromise.

"There has got to be some common ground here, to not solve every problem, but diminish the probability that what we have seen in these mass shootings will occur, and diminish the probability that our children are at risk in their schools," Biden said.

The spotlight was on the vice president's talks later with gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, or NRA. The group opposes legislative steps to strengthen gun laws or other actions it asserts would violate Second Amendment rights to bear arms.

President Obama supports renewing a ban on assault weapons that Congress allowed to expire in 2004, as well as a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, and he wants to close loopholes in background checks.

After the Connecticut shootings, the NRA pledged to make "meaningful contributions" to the debate. But it called a ban on assault weapons a "dangerous notion" and proposed that armed guards be placed in schools.

Following Thursday's talks, the NRA issued a statement accusing the White House of having an agenda aimed at attacking the Second Amendment, and vowed to take its case to members of Congress.

Though White House officials will not detail potential proposals, President Obama is expected to use his State of the Union address to lay out a package of recommendations.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, spoke to VOA Wednesday after his talks with Biden.

"I expect to hear specifics, and this is based on conversations we have been having [with the White House]. You know, the inauguration is probably too soon, but the State of the Union, based on the appropriately urgent timing of this task force, we would expect to hear specifics," said Gross.

Biden indicated that Obama would use executive orders that would not require legislation in Congress. Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed this.

"He is looking at this broadly, not just in terms of the things that can be done legislatively, and not just in terms of the things that can be done through executive action," Carney said.

Biden said he heard wide support for requiring universal background checks, not only for gun shows but private firearms sales. Every group, he said, mentioned the dangers of high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Thursday's discussions included Attorney General Eric Holder and Walmart, the largest seller of firearms in the United States.
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