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Biden: US not giving up on assault weapons ban
By Associated Press
Associated Press
2013-03-21 08:57 AM
The White House is still pushing for an assault weapons ban, Vice President Joe Biden said, even though Senate Democrats all but declared it dead by dropping it from the gun control package they plan to consider next month.

The ban was the most controversial of the proposals that President Barack Obama offered in January, a month after a school shooting in Connecticut left 20 young children dead and made gun safety a top national issue again. Obama called the day the worst of his presidency.

Gun control advocates have insisted on the ban after a legally purchased assault-type weapon was used in the massacre.

But opposition from the National Rifle Association gun lobby and other groups has underscored the political risks for lawmakers who support the measures, and Democrats are eager to pass whatever they can before Americans lose interest in the issue.

"Attitudes are changing," Biden, chosen by Obama to lead the gun safety effort, said in an interview with NPR News. "The president and I are going to continue to push, and we haven't given up on it."

The ban's sponsor still plans to offer it as an amendment, but it is almost certain to fall victim to opposition from Republicans and likely some Democrats, too. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said including the assault weapons ban could sink the whole bill of gun safety measures.

Other measures include universal federal background checks, which have received support from some in both political parties.

Biden said that if Congress expanded background checks but failed to adopt the assault weapons ban, the White House would not consider the broader effort a failure.

"That would be gigantic," Biden said.

The fate of expanded background checks is also uncertain, with the NRA arguing that they could open the door to a national gun registry. Biden said the notion of registering guns crosses a cultural line, noting that unlike cars, which must be registered, guns are explicitly protected by the Constitution.

In the Republican-run House of Representatives, Republican leaders have said they'll wait for the Senate to act before considering legislation. But they've shown little enthusiasm for most of Obama's proposals.

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Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed.

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