Biden: White House has 'not given up' on expanded background checks

Vice President Biden said Tuesday that gun control advocates in the White House "have not given up" on the legislative push to expand background checks.

"I'm here to tell you that the most important message to take from here today is the president and I, we have not given up. Our friends in the House and the Senate have not given up," Biden said at a White House event.

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Decrying a "perverted filibuster rule requiring 60 votes in the Senate," Biden nevertheless predicted that political pressure would force some elected officials in the upper chamber — which fell five votes short of passing a bill closing the gun show loophole in April — to reconsider.

"I know for a fact some of them wonder now if that was a prudent vote," Biden said.

"The country has changed," he continued. "You will pay a price, a political price for not getting engaged and dealing with gun safety."

The speech came three months after the Senate defeated a bipartisan background check bill, and just over six months after the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and was intended to signal a renewed push on the part of the White House.

The vice president, his voice occasionally rising as he admonished those in the Senate who had failed to support the background check bill, said polling indicated that voters would punish lawmakers who rejected the administration's proposal.

"The straw that broke the camel's back is now those people who support rational gun proposals saying 'this will be a defining issue for me,' " Biden said. "Look at those who voted 'no' and look at their polling results in their states."

A set of surveys released by Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling shortly after the vote showed senators from Alaska, Arizona, Nevada and Ohio all facing a political backlash after their vote. Biden pointed to swing-state lawmakers like Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) as having reaped political rewards for their "yes" votes.

"We need Congress to act," Biden said. "The American people are demanding it."

Biden also said the administration "completed or there's been major progress made toward the total completion" on 21 of the 23 executive actions proposed by President Obama to combat gun violence.

He said that the government would soon be releasing comprehensive reports on gun safety targeted to grade schools, universities and houses of worship, each intended to help organizations better prepare for the threat of gun violence. He also touted efforts to share more information within the federal background check system and expand research efforts into gun violence.

"Although we have yet to succeed in the House and the Senate — but we will — [President Obama] moved forward with what was in his power," Biden said.

The vice president was joined at the event by other top administration officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Biden's speech comes amid a renewed push by the White House and gun control advocates for background check legislation. Last week, the president and vice president met with families of victims of the Newtown shooting that spurred the administration's gun push.

“We want them to know as we approach the six-month anniversary of that terrible day, we will never forget and we will continue to fight alongside them,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

It was the president's first known meeting with victims’ families since a bipartisan gun control bill failed in the Senate. The vote prompted a fiery statement from the president in the Rose Garden, where he was surrounded by some of the same family members.

Obama at the time called it a “pretty shameful day for Washington,” and vowed to press on for a background check bill.

“Sooner or later we are going to get this right,” he said.

Outside gun groups have also stepped up the effort. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group funded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, bused the families of victims to Washington to hand-deliver messages to lawmakers and meet with press.

On Friday, the organization launched a nationwide bus tour in which family members of gun violence victims plan to stand in front of the hometown offices of lawmakers opposed to gun control.