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Biden aims at gun safety

Pledging swift action to curb gun violence, Vice-President Joe Biden says he will deliver new proposals to President Barack Obama by next Tuesday.

Biden said Thursday that while he had not finalized his recommendations, a consensus was emerging over banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines as well as tightening background checks.

Some of those measures are likely to face opposition from some pro-gun groups, most notably the National Rifle Association. A representative from the NRA met with Biden Thursday afternoon and, in a statement, suggested the group was unlikely to be a willing partner.

"We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen," the group said in a statement at the end of a 95-minute meeting.

Obama, after the horrific shooting of school children in Newtown, Conn., appointed Biden to lead a task force on preventing gun violence. He set a late January deadline for reommendations, which he pledged to act on swiftly.

The vice-president said Thursday that while no recommendations would eliminate all future mass shootings, "there has got to be some common ground, to not solve every problem but diminish the probability."

The NRA, the nation's largest gun-rights group, has worked to block gun-control efforts in the past and is opposing any new ones. In the wake of the Newtown shootings, NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre rejected efforts to tighten gun laws and instead recommended putting armed guards in all schools.

LaPierre was not scheduled to attend the White House meeting. Instead, the NRA dispatched its top lobbyist, James Baker, who has worked with Biden previously on gun issues.

White House officials recognize it is unlikely the NRA will fully support measures Obama is pushing. But the administration may need to soften the NRA's opposition if it hopes to rally support from pro-gun lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The NRA, too, seemed eager to rally its allies in Congress.

"We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment," the group said in its statement.

The Canadian Press


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