Biden: ‘No silver bullet’ to stop gun violence

Vice President Biden said Friday that his task force on gun violence recognized there was “no silver bullet” that would solve the problem and downplayed harsh criticism from the National Rifle Association about the administration’s efforts.

“We know that there is no silver bullet,” to stop gun violence, Biden said, ahead of a Friday meeting with video game manufacturers and retailers. He did not elaborate further. 

{mosads}Biden said he believed his Thursday meeting with advocates of gun ownership was “productive,” but he refused to comment when asked about criticism levied by the NRA following the conference.

“I thought we had a very straightforward, productive meeting,” Biden said.

On Thursday, the NRA said it was “disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment.”

“We will engage our members,” NRA President David Keene told CNN on Thursday, accusing the White House of simply “checking a box” during its meeting with gun activists.

“They were able to say we’ve met with the NRA, we’ve met with the people that are strong Second Amendment supporters,” Keene said.

Biden did say that he saw differences between the NRA and other groups at the meeting.

“There is actually a difference among them as well,” Biden said. “It’s not a uniform view.”

The meeting Friday with video game manufacturers was the last in packed week for the vice president, who has said he planned to present President Obama a package of potential legislative and executive actions by Tuesday of next week. 

Participants at the meeting included developers Activision and Electronic Arts, along with retailer GameStop.

The Friday conference came after a Thursday evening discussion with film and television executives as Biden’s working group at least temporarily shifted focus from the issue of gun control to cultural factors.

Ahead of the meeting, industry organizations issued open letters to the vice president warning that attempts to regulate depictions of violence in video games would likely constitute an infringement on First Amendment rights.

“Governments should not be seeking ways to constrain this emerging medium early in its development by scapegoating video games for societal ills,” said Daniel Greenberg, an executive with the International Game Developers Association.

Jennifer Mercurio, a vice president for the Entertainment Consumers Association, argued that “while video game sales have increased, violent crime has been steadily decreasing.”

The posturing by the video game representatives largely mirrored a similar statement from executives for film and television groups issued after their meeting with the vice president Thursday night. 

In the statement, Hollywood trade groups said they “look forward to doing our part to seek meaningful solutions” to prevent gun violence while emphasizing that the industry already imposes ratings systems for consumers.

“The entertainment community appreciates being included in the dialogue around the Administration’s efforts to confront the complex challenge of gun violence in America,” the statement said. “This industry has a longstanding commitment to provide parents the tools necessary to make the right viewing decisions for their families.”

Asked if he believed video games were coarsening American culture, Biden said that he did “not know the answer to that question.”

Biden also added  that the range of meetings he had conducted was evidence that the video game industry was “not singled out for help.”

On Thursday, Biden outlined a series of proposals that could eventually find their way into the legislative package. He said the federal government would revamp the way it collected data on gun violence, comparing current limits on information gathering with the 1970s-era restrictions on federal research over the causes of traffic fatalities.

The vice president also said many stakeholders had suggested pursuing limits on high-capacity magazines for semiautomatic guns, along with universal background checks that would close the so-called gun-show loopholes.

The Brady Campaign, the nation’s most prominent anti-gun group, said Friday that it had suggested making gun trafficking a federal offense and limiting the number of guns that could be purchased in a short period of time.

And the White House on Friday insisted that the president would continue to push for an updated version of the assault weapons ban as part of the legislative package, despite reports that Obama might abandon the effort because it was not likely to garner congressional support.

There were some indications that one change — a  limit on high-capacity magazines — might be able to attract some support across the aisle. The Des Moines Register in Iowa reported Friday that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said he believes that issue could be regulated without violating the Second Amendment.

Biden himself said Thursday that he believed the administration could accomplish “a great deal” on the issue of gun violence “without in any way imposing on and impinging on the rights of the Second Amendment.”

On Friday, Biden did provide one new suggestion, saying that the task force hoped to talk with technology companies about possible gun safety measures.

“A lot could change, for example, if every gun could only be fired by the person who purchased it,” Biden said, noting that the gun in the Newtown, Conn., massacre had been purchased by the mother of the shooter.

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