Obama Taps Biden for Post-Newtown Action Plan

Dec 19, 2012 6:00am
gty joe biden barack obama speak thg 121219 wblog Obama Taps Biden for Post Newtown Action Plan

Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama has tasked Vice President Joe Biden with coordinating the administration’s response to the deadly massacre in Newtown, Conn., last week.

Biden will oversee the formulation of new policies aimed at reducing gun violence and preventing mass-shootings like the one that took 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School, administration officials said.  He will work directly with the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Education and Health and Human Services to draft an action plan.

Obama is expected to formally announce the Biden-led process at the White House later this morning.

The president, who vowed “meaningful action” in the wake of last Friday’s tragedy, has faced intensifying pressure to publicly lay out his plans.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that Obama is now “actively supportive” of new legislation sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that would reinstate the ban on certain types of semi-automatic weapons and may support other efforts, such as a proposal to ban high-capacity magazines.

“[The President] supports — and would support legislation that addresses the problem of the so-called gun show loophole, and there are other elements of gun law — gun legislation that he could support,” Carney said. “People have talked about high- capacity ammunition clips, for example, and that is something, certainly, that he would be interested in looking at,” he added.

Administration officials say Obama is also interested in new ways of addressing cultural and mental health factors in gun violence.

Obama met privately Monday with Biden and three members of his Cabinet — Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — to discuss steps forward in the aftermath of Newtown.

The administration has set a target of “a few weeks or a few months” for presenting those plans, while offering few additional specifics.

Biden’s new role is rooted in his experience as a U.S. Senator with writing and shepherding into law the 1994 Crime Bill and chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees criminal justice issues.

The 1994 Crime Bill included the ban on certain types of semi-automatic rifles (better known as the “assault weapons ban”) and new classes of people banned from owning or possessing firearms, in addition to expanding the federal death penalty and the Violence Against Women Act.

ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Mary Bruce contributed to this report.  This post has been updated.

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