Speaking just more than 10 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Vice President Joe Biden warned Congress that there is a "moral price" that will be paid if action is not taken to prevent gun violence.
"I say to my colleagues who will watch this and listen to this, I say to you: 'If you're concerned about your political survival, you should be concerned about the survival of our children. And, guess what? I believe the price to be paid politically will go to those who refuse to act, who refuse to step forward because America's changed on this issue. You should all know the American people are with us,'" Biden told a conference on gun violence at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn. "There's a moral price to be paid for inaction."
The vice president praised the families who lost loved ones in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., for the courage they have shown in the past two months and cited their tenacity as an example for all officials working on stemming gun violence.
"I can't imagine how you did it," Biden said. "When I think about all the courage you've shown, it's not too much to ask the political establishment in this country, the members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, state legislators, governors, to show some political courage, too."
A White House aide said Biden met with families of Sandy Hook victims and survivors while in Danbury.
Biden argued the gun lobby is setting up "roadblocks" to prevent legislation to curb gun violence from going forward and repeated his assertion that AR-15s are not needed for self-defense.
"They say assault weapons like AR-15 are needed for self-protection and recreation. They are not. There's plenty of ways you can protect yourself and recreate without an AR-15," Biden said.
"They say it isn't about guns," Biden added. "They're wrong. It is about guns."
In his speech, the vice president recited the stories of a few victims of young gun violence, including Hadiya Pendleton, the young Chicago girl who was shot and killed days after she participated in inaugural festivities. Biden mistakenly said he and the president watched Pendleton play in the parade on Inauguration Day, but she actually performed days earlier at the Presidential Inauguration Heritage Music Festival in Fairfax, Va.
The conference was hosted by Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, all Democrats from Connecticut, and featured panels on how to prevent gun violence prior to the vice president and other officials' speeches.
While Biden's speech was serious in nature, there was also a small, unintentional joke played on the vice president by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy. When the vice president began to tell a story of his grandfather, Ambrose Finnegan, the crowd erupted into laughter, prompting Biden to ask, "What the hell's so funny about that?"
Malloy stepped to the microphone and said, "I bet them that you would talk about your grandfather."
"I love my grandfather," Biden said, laughing. "My grandfather's a very wise man. He was brilliant, not just because he was Irish."