|Biden, Bloomberg, Newtown Parents Press for Strict Gun Control|
|JOSH HASKELL (@joshbhaskell)||Mar 21, 2013, 4:25 PM|
Just two days after Senate Democrats in Washington, D.C., dropped the assault weapons ban from gun legislation to be introduced in April, Vice President Joseph Biden was in New York City, joining Mayor Michael Bloomberg and three Newtown families to urge lawmakers to think about Sandy Hook Elementary.
"For all those who say we shouldn't or couldn't ban high-capacity magazines, I just ask the one question. Think about Newtown," said the vice president. "Think about how many of these children or teachers may be alive today had [Adam Lanza] had to reload three times as many times as he did."
As Biden spoke at New York's City Hall, he gestured to the Newtown families gathered behind him.
"We've actually become good acquaintances and friends. We've met many times," he said.
The discussion on federal gun laws is part of a campaign the vice president has been leading to gain support for stricter gun laws following the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Biden partnered with Bloomberg for the discussion; the mayor is another strong advocate for gun control who co-chairs the group "Mayors Against Illegal Guns," a coalition of more than 900 mayors.
Chris and Lynn McDonnell, who lost their 7-year-old daughter Grace, stood next to Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse Lewis also died at Sandy Hook. The family of teacher Lauren Rousseau, also killed that day, joined the parents of the two children.
"When you think about Grace and Jesse and these two beautiful little babies, that's what they were," said Biden. "And Lauren, who was not really a teacher, this is a woman who if this happened on the battlefield … she would get a commendation for her bravery in trying to protect her comrades. In this case, trying to protect these little angels."
A few of the family members spoke, including Lynn McDonnell, who indirectly referred to Ohio Senator Rob Portman's decision to support gay marriage.
"We see that on a completely unrelated issue, a prominent senator has changed his view because he gained a new perspective, formed by his own personal connection to that issue," said McDonnell. "For those of you for whatever reason are inclined to do something very little in support of gun control, we ask you to try to gain your new perspective by thinking about the unthinkable, which is unfortunately our reality."
At the discussion, Bloomberg acknowledged that some progress on gun control has already been made.
"Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a number of reforms, including a measure to expand background checks to private gun sales, which is how some 40 percent of gun purchases in the nation are made," he said.
The mayor and the vice president, turning to the Newtown parents, ended the discussion by saying that they can't bring back their loved ones, but they can do something in their memory, like passing stricter gun laws, to ensure that a shooting like Sandy Hook Elementary doesn't happen again.