Biden: 'We will prevail' on background checks

Vice President Joe Biden, the president's point man on gun control, vowed Sunday that the White House and its supporters “will prevail” in the fight for tougher background checks, despite last month's legislative defeat.

ADVERTISEMENT
Biden laid out his case in the Houston Chronicle, the newspaper of record in the city where the National Rifle Association (NRA) is holding its annual members meeting. The vice president and potential 2016 presidential candidate told a group of law-enforcement officials last week that he plans to revive the push for expanded background checks after a bipartisan effort from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) failed on a 54-46 vote, short of the 60-vote threshold needed to pass.

“We fell short on our first effort to pass Manchin-Toomey in the Senate, but we will not be deterred by one setback,” Biden wrote. “We have an obligation to make sure that the voices of victims, not the voice of the NRA, ring the loudest in this debate.”

Biden said he was galvanized by political developments since last month's vote. Sen. Jeff Flake's poll numbers have collapsed since he voted against the measure – the Arizona Republican described his popularity as “just below pond scum” – and Sens. Mary Landrieu and Kay Hagan, Democrats from Louisiana and North Carolina, have seen polling bumps.

“For too long, members of Congress have been afraid to vote against the wishes of the NRA, even when the vast majority of their constituents support what the NRA opposes,” Biden said. “That fear has become such an article of faith that even in the face of evidence to the contrary, a number of senators voted against basic background checks, against a federal gun trafficking statute and against other common-sense measures because they feared a backlash.”

“Today, those very senators are discovering that the political landscape really did change. They are learning that [last year's shooting death of 20 elementary school students in] Newtown really did shock the conscience of the nation and that inaction will not be tolerated by Democrats, Republicans or independents.”

The NRA, for its part, says its membership has surged to a record five million since the shooting and the resulting calls for gun control.

“We are in the midst of a once-in-a-generation fight for everything we care about. We have a chance to secure our freedom for a generation, or to lose it forever,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told NRA members Saturday. “We must remain vigilant, ever resolute, and steadfastly growing and preparing for the even more critical battles that loom before us.”