Biden claims progress on gun control

Vice President Biden is declaring progress in the Obama administration’s post-Newtown push to tackle gun violence via executive action.

Each of 23 measures unveiled by the president in January has been advanced, Biden said in a message issued by the White House.

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“Those 23 executive actions are keeping guns out of dangerous hands,” Biden said. “They're providing support for communities to hire school resource officers. And they're reducing the stigma around mental illness.”

Biden’s remarks come almost a year after the elementary school massacre that left 26 people — including 20 first graders — dead in the small Connecticut town. The shooting spree led to a flurry of new gun control legislation in Congress, including bills to ban certain assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

All failed, including a bipartisan measure to expand background checks to all commercial gun sales. 

That amendment offered in April by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), seen as gun control advocates’ best chance for a victory in the current political landscape, fell six votes short of approval.

Though those efforts require legislation, the administration sought to accomplish as much as possible unilaterally. Obama put Biden in charge of a taskforce charged with identifying steps that could be taken without action in the divided Congress. Ultimately, the group settled on just under two-dozen measures.

“And so even after a minority of senators blocked commonsense legislation to reduce gun violence this spring, we're pushing forward,” Biden said.

Progress on each of the 23 items is detailed in a new report issued by the White House. The actions range from concrete steps like nominating and confirming a director to head the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to more vague undertakings, such as efforts to “maximize enforcement efforts.”

The White House is also claiming progress on regulations designed to improve access to treatment for the mentally ill, as well as numerous research initiatives and the issuance of reports meant to shed more light on the causes of gun violence.

In claiming progress on the White House’s initiative, Biden renewed his call for action at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

“Now, it's not enough to take these steps on our own – we still need Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to reduce gun violence,” he said.