Senate Democrats Huddle on Gun Measures

Washington (Tribune Washington Bureau MCT) -

Vice President Joe Biden met Thursday with Senate Democrats to brief the caucus about the rationale behind the administration’s recommendations on guns, arguing that, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting, the nation “will not understand if we donact.”

Biden seemed intent to emphasize that the most politically challenging of the initiatives he has recommended — an assault weapons ban — was still a priority for the administration, mentioning it first in remarks to reporters afterward.

“My message was to lay out for my colleagues what our game plan was, what we thought needed to be done,” Biden said after the more than hour-long meeting. “I made the case for not only assault weapons but for the entire set of recommendations the president laid out.”

Biden said he also asked to sit down with the key parties on Capitol Hill to plot strategy going forward.

A day after the Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on guns, the vice president said there has been a “sea change” in public opinion since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, calling it the “straw that broke the camel’s back” to get the public behind gun measures for the first time in decades.

“I’m not saying there’s an absolute consensus on all these things,” he said. “But there is a sea change in attitudes of the American people. And I believe that the American people will not understand — and I know everyone in that caucus agrees with me — will not understand if we don’t act.”

Participants in the meeting said the vice president indicated he will continue to travel to make the administration’s case, as will the president. A week ago Biden traveled to Richmond, Va., to focus on the call for universal background checks, which is seen as the most likely of the slate of proposals to pass.