Anti-Gun Groups At White House: Question Isn’t Whether New Gun Laws Would Have Prevented Newtown

By Fred Lucas | January 9, 2013 | 6:48 PM EST

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence president Dan Gross speaks outside the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, following a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden. With Gross are, from left, William Kellibrew Foundation founder William Kellibrew; Hildy Saizow of Arizona for Gun Safety; Virginia Tech shooting survivor Colin Goddard; Annette Nance-Holt, mother of victim to gang violence; and Lonnie Phillips, stepfather of a Aurora, Colo., shooting victim. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

( – After meeting with Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday, a leading gun- control activist said there was consensus on bringing back the assault weapons ban and beefing  up background checks, but that the discussion over new restrictions was not about what would prevent another mass shooting.

“So, that’s not the question: Would the things we’re discussing have prevented Newtown? The question is: How many lives of the things we are discussing inevitably save?” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told during a press conference.

Gross, flanked by a group of people who either survived shootings or lost family members to gun violence, spoke to reporters Wednesday after the meeting with Biden. The vice president was charged with leading a task force to present gun-control proposals to President Obama before the State of the Union address. The Wednesday meeting included Attorney General Eric Holder.

“They weren’t specific but they did talk about their willingness to use executive action,” Gross said.

On Thursday, Biden will meet with pro-Second Amendment advocates, including representatives of the National Rifle Association.

A renewed call for gun-control measures ensued after the Newtown, Conn. elementary school shooting in which a gunman killed 20 children, mostly kindergarteners, with emphasis on a bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to ban certain automatic weapons. asked about the effectiveness of gun-control proposals. “One of the issues that have come up is whether the Feinstein assault weapons ban, for example, would have prevented the tragedies that have happened over the last few years.”

Gross said the administration was looking at all solutions.

“To us, that’s one of really the great values of this task force,” Gross said. “In addition to really demonstrating the administration’s leadership on this, it takes all of the solutions that are being discussed and puts them in the context of what can we do to save the most possible lives, not just to prevent any one tragedy.”

“When you think about the historical arc on this issue, the fact that public sentiment, as powerful as it’s been around some of the tragedies as represented by the people you see here, its inevitably faded too quickly and I think one of the reasons it has faded too quickly is because the solutions discussed are discussed only in the context of what could have been done to prevent a single tragedy and a single tragedy that usually isn’t typical of the kind of gun violence that happens every day in our country,” Gross continued. “So, that’s not the question: Would the things we’re discussing have prevented Newtown? The question is: How many lives of the things we are discussing [more gun control] inevitably save?”

Before the meeting, Biden told reporters, “There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken. We haven’t decided what that is yet.” later asked, “Was there a consensus on what would be effective?”

Gross answered that the top priority was increased background checks.

“I can give you the consensus at the table -- because I think the task force is going to wait to issue their ultimate recommendation -- is around, certainly inclusive around a conversation of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” Gross said. “Background checks is probably the greatest concern that exists not only at that table but among the American public.”

“Right now, 40 percent of all gun sales in this country happen without a background check,” Gross said. “Yes, there is an important conversation to be had about what we can do to improve the background check system among the 60 percent of gun sales. But a far more important conversation is around the 40 percent of gun sales that require no background check at all. It’s trivialized when it’s called the gun show loophole because it includes – as we talked about in the meeting – vans on street corners in the inner city or, very importantly, the Internet.”

Congress enacted a ban on so-called assault weapons in 1994 that expired in 2004. Pro-Second Amendment groups argue that the law was not effective in keeping guns away from criminals. Gun-control advocates argue that background checks only apply to gun shops, while large gun shows are exempt.