LANSDOWNE, Va. — In a speech Wednesday night, Vice President Joe Biden implored House Democrats to continue to fight for gun control legislation despite the potential political ramifications of doing so.
Biden was visibly emotional as he spoke of the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 20 children and six adults and called it a “profound loss” for America.
“I can imagine how we will be judged as individuals, we will be judged as a Congress, we will be judged as a nation if we do nothing,” Biden told House Democrats at their retreat in Lansdowne, Va. “It’s simply unacceptable.”
The vice president said he rejected those who would say the political risk “is too high, the outcome is too certain.”
His voice rising, Biden said that in the 54 days since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, there have been 1,600 shooting deaths, and specifically mentioned the death of Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago teenager who had marched in the inauguration parade only a few weeks ago.
“Enough is enough is enough,” he said to applause from House Democrats, who are spending three days at the Virginia retreat. President Obama and former President Bill Clinton will also address the group.
“Many of you have scars on your back like I do from having acted, attempted to act, and contining to try act to deal with the senseless gun violence in America,” he said.
The former Delaware senator recalled the 1994 bill he helped craft, that included a now-expired federal assault weapons ban, and shortly after they passed it, Democrats “lost the Congress.”
“Some people attribute that to the tough stands people had to take, particularly on the assault weapons ban,” he said. “People have walked away learning the wrong lesson from that saying, ‘You know what? It’s demonstrable but it’s too risky to take on some of this stuff because look what happened last time we did this.’”
Biden declared that the world had changed, as had public attitudes on gun control. Additionally, through things like social media, “the ability to misrepresent our positions has changed.”
He also said there was not a simple solution to the problem of mass shootings: Biden said there was “no single answer to ensure this will never happen again.”
The vice president has been charged with leading the President’s task force on gun violence prevention. He told the members attending the retreat that he was unwavering in his belief that the recommendations the task force has put forward are not in violation of the Second Amendment.
“It is clearly within the right of the government to determine what type of weapons can be owned by the public.”
“Don’t tell me because we can’t solve it all, we can’t act at all. … when people tell me you cant prevent these kinds of occurrences that doesn’t mean we can’t do something so god forbids if it happens again, diminish the carnage,” he said.