By Alex Moe
DANBURY, Conn. – Vice President Joe Biden made a forceful case for the Obama administration’s gun control initiatives on Thursday in a speech less than 15 miles down the road from the site of December’s Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting.
“I say it’s unacceptable not to take this on. It’s just simply unacceptable. I say to my colleagues … if you’re concerned about your political survival you should be concerned about the survival of our children,” the vice president said two months after the shooting rampage. ”I believe the price to be paid politically to those who refuse to act, who refuse to step forward, because America has changed on this issue.”
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“You should all know the American people are with us. They should know. You all should know. There is a moral price to be paid for inaction,” he added.
Continuing his role as the Obama administration’s public advocate on gun control, Biden spoke for nearly 30 minutes and met with two of the Newtown shooting victim’s families beforehand.
Adam Lanza, whose shooting spree killed 26 first-graders and educators, took classes as a teenager at Western Connecticut State University — the venue of Thursday’s conference.
“We have to speak for all those voices — for the 20 beautiful children who died 69 days ago because they can’t speak for themselves,” Biden told the nearly 300-person crowd. “I can’t imagine how we will be judged as a society if we do nothing.”
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan echoed similar themes in his remarks.
“Ladies and gentlemen, sometimes you pick the time, sometimes the time picks you and sadly the time has picked us and I’m just convinced that as a country if we don’t move forward in a thoughtful way to do something to protect our babies, it will never happen,” he said.
In the wake of the school massacre, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Newtown Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., held this conference, with panel discussions on reform to federal gun laws and one on mental health and school safety.
“Preventing gun violence was thought to be untouchable politically two months ago. That unspeakable horror has given us unstoppable momentum and we must seize this historic moment,” Blumenthal said.
Chris and Lynn McDonnell lost their 7-year-old daughter, Grace, during the shooting on Dec. 14. The couple spoke on the morning panel about gun violence as Grace’s “voice” in this national discussion.
“We ask that our representatives look into their hearts and remember the 26 beautiful lives that were lost,” Lynn McDonnell pleaded, pausing to compose herself as she remembered her daughter.
After a series of high-profile mass shootings during President Barack Obama’s first term, he unveiled his proposals for stricter gun laws last month. His various initiatives include universal background checks on all gun sales, bans on military style assault weapons and bans on high-capacity magazines.
“Whatever laws we have on the books in our state, the need for strong federal legislation has never been clearer. The proposals outlined by the White House will make us and our children safer, no doubt about it,” Democratic Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy advocated.
While debate in Congress is ongoing, and the National Rifle Association vows to fight any new laws, both Obama and Biden continue to push their agenda across the country.
Just Tuesday, Biden participated in a Facebook town hall with Parents magazine and assured individuals their ability to defend themselves will not be taken away completely.
“If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barreled shotgun,” he said. “Have the shells of a 12-gauge shotgun and I promise you – as I told my wife … ‘Jill, if there is ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out, put that double barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house. I promise you whoever is coming in is not going to.’”