White House eyes gun violence package

Jan. 6, 2013 at 1:14 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The Obama administration is formulating a broader strategy for gun control as it looks to reduce U.S. gun violence, those privy to the discussions say.

Rather than just pursuing the reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, a White House working group led by Vice President Joe Biden is looking at a multi-prong approach that would include universal background checks for gun purchasers, creation of a national database to track guns, strengthening of mental health checks, and tougher penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors, sources told The Washington Post.

The newspaper reported Saturday the administration also is coming up with a battle plan to defuse the National Rifle Association's expected counter-attack. One source told the Post that could include recruiting Walmart and other gun retailers to support measures that would benefit their businesses.

"They are very clearly committed to looking at this issue comprehensively," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who has been in on discussions where there has been "a deeper exploration than just the assault-weapons ban."

President Obama created the working group last month after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 people dead, mostly young children.

The Post said leaders of various interest groups have discussed options for a wider approach with Biden and other top administration officials.

"Simply coming up with one or two aspects of it really falls short of the magnitude of the gun issue in the country," said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum who was among the law enforcement leaders who met with the White House group.

Hennepin County (Minn.) Sheriff Richard Stanek, president of the Major County Sheriffs' Association, said the meeting included lengthy discussion of mental-health issues and violence in video games and movies.

A White House spokesman said the work group was reviewing the input it received and had yet to come up with final recommendations, the Post said.

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