WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden vowed today to ensure that the “loudest voice” in the debate over guns will be those who were lost to gun violence, like the 20 children and six educators killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year.
“There are going to be a lot of voices in this debate but I’m absolutely determined to make sure the loudest voice will be the voices of those who we lost. We have to speak for them and their families. Folks, enough is enough is enough,” Biden said at the National League of Cities conference.
Biden said he has spent hours with a majority of the parents who lost their children in the Sandy Hook shooting, and he criticized those people who have argued that the “Connecticut effect” will fade from the minds of the public.
“That effect isn’t going to fade in the memories of the families who lost their children or their loved one. It’s not going to fade in my memory. It’s not going to fade in the president’s memory, and it’s not going to fade in the memory of the people of Connecticut and I would argue not in the memory of the people of the United States,” he said. “The American people want things to change.”
Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a universal background check bill and a measure to expand school safety. Last week, the committee approved gun trafficking legislation that would make “straw” purchases — buying a gun for someone else — a felony. It is the first gun measures since the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
“We’re again making progress,” Biden said. “These steps that Congress is taking this week show real signs of progress.”
While speaking about the need to expand the background check system, Biden argued that there are exclusions in the current system which must be changed.
“A fugitive from justice can still buy a gun legally unless they cross a state line,” he said. “The one person I don’t want to have a weapon is a fugitive from justice. I’d rather have an ex-felon have access to a weapon than someone fleeing the justice system.”
And the vice president had a strong admonition for those who support the arming of teachers in schools.
“The last thing we think we need to do is to arm teachers. We need to arm teachers with information, not guns,” he said.
Just last week, South Dakota became the first state to enact a law that allows school boards to determine whether teachers should be armed in the classroom.