Biden To Lead White House Gun Control Task Force

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 19 2012 12:45 PM

Biden To Lead White House Gun Control Task Force

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US President Barack Obama speaks during a memorial service for the victims and relatives of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut

Photo by Mandel NganAFP/Getty Images.

After the deadly elementary school shooting in Connecticut last week, the White House announced a commitment — though somewhat vague — to seek stricter gun control measures in the coming weeks. Today, the president started to follow-up on that promise by announcing a new, inter-agency gun control task force, led by Vice President Joe Biden.

While Obama was light on details on how the administration plans to address the issue, the president set a deadline for the task force, requiring "concrete proposals" to address gun violence by January, CNN reports. In addition to Biden, the task force will include Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. According to the Washington Post, the White House response to the shooting will also include White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler; Biden’s chief counsel, Cynthia C. Hogan; and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

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Biden's selection to head up the task force gives some indication of the White House's approach to the issue. Biden, who the NRA called the "most anti-gun vice president in American history," has an "F" rating from the pro-gun group for his voting record in the Senate. Biden was one of the leading voices in favor of the 1994 ban on assault weapons, but that ban quietly expired in 2004. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said on Sunday that she would re-introduce an assault weapons ban bill in response to the Connecticut shooting.

And as the New York Times notes, the inclusion of Sebelius and Duncan on the task force indicates that the administration's approach to the issue probably won't stick strictly to gun control legislation. The president's response is expected to address mental health issues as well, for instance. As press secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday, " [The president] wants to expand the conversation beyond those specific areas of legislation to look at other ways we can address this problem." 

This post was originally published at 11:11 a.m., and updated with additional information.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.