Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged that new gun laws would not “fundamentally alter” the likelihood of another mass shooting, though he insisted there has been a “sea change” in American views on guns in the wake of Newtown.
“Nothing we’re going to do is going to fundamentally alter or eliminate the possibility of another mass shooting or guarantee that we will bring gun deaths down to 1,000 a year from what it is now,” Biden told reporters Thursday afternoon after he spent over an hour lunching with Democratic senators at the Capitol.
“But there are things that we can do, demonstrably can do, that have virtually zero impact on your Second Amendment right to own a weapon for both self defense and recreation that can save some lives,” he said.
Biden was on the Hill to help sell a package of changes to the nation’s gun laws that President Barack Obama is pushing in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings that killed 20 elementary school children and six adults. The president wants an assault weapons ban, limits on the size of gun magazines, universal background checks and a federal gun trafficking statute.
The 1994 assault-weapons ban was allowed to expire in 2004, and there had been little appetite to reenact it.
Still, that was before Newtown — and the vice president insisted Thursday that the tragedy there changed the public’s attitudes toward gun-safety legislation, a reality that would make new firearms regulations possible.
“I’m not saying there’s an absolute consensus on all these things,” Biden said, “but there is a sea change, a sea change in the attitudes of the American people. I believe the American people will not understand — and I know that everyone in that caucus understands — they won’t understand if we don’t act.
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