Vice President Joe Biden said a meeting Monday about gun control with lawmakers and police yielded a shared sense of urgency for implementing tighter gun laws to prevent more tragedies like the school shooting in Connecticut that killed 20 children.
Biden was joined at Girard College by law enforcement officials and Democratic members of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation. Among those in attendance was police Chief Christine Dunning from Wilmington, Del., where a courthouse shooting hours earlier left three people dead and two wounded.
“She had a rough day today,” said Biden, who grew up in nearby Claymont, Del., and referred to Dunning as “my hometown chief.” He briefly recounted some details of the morning's shooting and lamented that Wilmington “has been dealing with a murder rate that exceeds any number that a city its size should be dealing with.”
Biden is expected to host an ongoing series of roundtable discussions around the country to promote the need for stricter gun control legislation. The visit came one day before President Barack Obama is expected in his annual State of the Union address to try to rally support for new gun control measures.
The Obama administration wants Congress to require background checks for all gun sales, ban military-style weapons and limit high-capacity ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. The changes are being sought in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shooting on Dec. 14 that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.
“We cannot wait,” Biden said. “The images of those innocent little children being riddled with bullet holes has gripped the conscience of the nation and the nation is demanding that we act responsibly.”
Biden said there was widespread support for implementing universal background checks for gun purchases. He said the group also discussed increasing mental health facilities and access and restoring funding cuts for police grants.
“There is a sense of urgency for the United States of America, the federal government and local governments to act,” Biden said. “There is no conflict, none, zero, of any of those things that were suggested here today with the Second Amendment.”
Federal lawmakers joining Biden included Reps. Bob Brady, Chaka Fattah and Allyson Schwartz, and Sen. Bob Casey. Also attending were Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Mayor Michael Nutter and New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.