The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

February 21, 2013

During Connecticut trip, Biden pleads for gun control

(Continued)

"Prosecuting criminals, fixing our broken mental health system and placing law enforcement in schools will," Arulanandam said. "That's what the American people and the National Rifle Association support."

The vice president's remarks came at the end of a day-long conference at Western Connecticut State University, where much of the state's political leadership gathered to discuss federal legislation that could prevent shootings. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan joined Biden at the event.

Two months ago, a man fatally shot 20 young children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in nearby Newtown. Emotions were raw at Thursday's gathering; many attendees were from the Newtown community.

Lynn McDonnell, whose daughter, Grace, died in the Newtown massacre, addressed the forum and said she was trying to be "fearless" in her efforts to push for tougher gun laws. She got choked up when she spoke of the students who were shot on Dec. 14.

"We owe it to our children, and I owe it to my daughter, Grace," McDonnell said.

Connecticut's two U.S. senators and the congresswoman who represents the Newtown area — all Democrats — gave speeches urging swift action on gun laws. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he thinks measures to require background checks for all gun buyers, as well as making firearm trafficking a federal crime, are "achievable."

"Two months ago, this topic was untouchable," Blumenthal said. "Today it is achievable and, in fact, unstoppable."

Said Sen. Chris Murphy: "Newtown did change everything. The obstacles and the barriers that have existed to changes in our gun laws for decades came crumbling down on December 14."

Yet the political reality in Washington is far more complicated than Blumenthal and Murphy suggested, with most Republicans and some Democrats hesitant or unwilling to support stricter federal weapons laws. Thursday's event did not include any gun-rights advocates or representatives of the gun industry.

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