With hearings underway on Capitol Hill over the Obama administration's proposed gun-control measures, Vice President Joe Biden today described the untold horror from Sandy Hook Elementary in an appeal to the nation's attorneys general for help.
"With the press not here, I can tell you what is not public yet about how gruesome it was," Biden said of the December mass-shooting in Newtown, Conn., at a Washington luncheon attended by the attorneys general for all 50 states. "I met with the state troopers who were on the scene this last week. And the impact on them has been profound. Some of them, understandably, needing some help."
Many of the first responders to the scene, where 20 children and 6 adults were killed, have remained out of the public eye in the weeks since the tragedy, keeping their personal grief and emotional trauma private.
A spokeswoman for Biden could not clarify details of the non-public information to which he referred.
The vice president suggested that what he heard in private conversations should spur lawmakers to enact some measures aimed at curbing gun violence.
"The excuse that it's too politically risky to act is no longer acceptable. We cannot remain silent," he said in an impassioned plea. "We have to become the voices of those 20 beautiful children who 75 days ago were killed. They can't speak for themselves.
"You know better than any elected officials," he continued, "we have to speak for the more than 2,000 people who have died at the end of a gun just since Newtown. Two thousand Americans in 75 days."
Biden acknowledged differences of opinion in how to best address the epidemic of gun violence, but said attorneys general are well-positioned to bridge a partisan divide.
"All of you, unlike any other elected official in your state are cloaked with both a moral and political credibility that no other office holds," Biden said. "Each of you are able to operate in an area that is not viewed as a partisan bloodbath.
"I need your advice and I need your help, and I mean that sincerely," he added. "No one has ever doubted that I mean what I say. The problem is I tend to say all that I mean, and that gets me in trouble."