Joe Biden Gun Panel: Will Second Amendment Advocates Get a Seat at the Table?

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Vice-President Joe Biden will spearhead an Obama Administration task force that will explore ways to improve mental health resources, address ways to create a culture that doesn’t promote violence and present a set of recommendations on gun laws by January.

President Barack Obama announced the creation of the informal panel during a Dec. 19 press conference, challenging the idea that the Second Amendment right to own a gun means the right to own any gun.

“What we’ve seen over the last 10 or 15 years is that anything related to guns is an encroachment on the Second Amendment,” Obama said. “There’s a big chunk of space between what the Second Amendment means and having no rules at all and that space is what Joe’s going to be examining.”

Biden’s panel is expected to include input from the departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services. It will include Cabinet members, congressmen, and various “stakeholders” — which means, Second Amendment advocates and gun rights groups insist, the conversation should include them.

Biden met on Dec. 20 with Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Afterward, he addressed a meeting of the Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations.

Biden, a key figure in the 1994 Senate passage of the now-expired assault weapons ban, pressed police chiefs to push for a renewed assault weapons ban. “For anything to get done, we’re going to need your advocacy,” he told the group.

Presumably, Biden’s panel will quickly push for three gun-related bills: reinstate the ban on military-style assault weapons, restrict high-capacity ammunition clips, and close loopholes that allow gun buyers to avoid background checks.

These prospective laws could be among the first bills presented to the House and the Senate after the 113th Congress is seated on Jan. 3.

Assault Weapons Ban: The Clinton Era ban expired in 2004, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says she plans to bring it back for a vote early next year.

“There’s no Second Amendment right to bear every type of weapon that you know of,” Feinstein said. “These are a certain class of weapons — they are designed to kill, large numbers of people, in close combat. I don’t believe the Second Amendment covers them.”

As a Senator, Biden chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee’s review of the 2004 AWB and was among the leaders in getting the ban passed.

Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act (H.R. 308): Introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-New York, this bill would ban high-capacity magazines.

Since it was introduced in January 2011, the bill has secured 126 co-signers, but has languished in committee in the Republican-controlled House.

“Gun Show Loophole”: About 40 percent of all legal gun sales take place at gun shows, on the Internet, or through more-informal sales between private sellers and buyers, where buyers are not subject to federal background checks.

Though “anti-loophole legislation” passed the U.S. Senate, it was defeated in the House of Representatives.

Presumably, the panel will recommend re-submitting a version of this bill to the House..

“In this age of technology, we should be able to check criminal records before someone checks out at a gun show,” Obama said on Dec. 19.

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