Biden Blames Violence on 'Coarsening of Our Culture'

By Penny Starr | January 17, 2013 | 5:20 PM EST


Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the Obama administration's sweeping gun control plan at the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Jan. 17, 2013 in Washington, D.C. ( Starr)

( – Speaking to hundreds of mayors from around the country, Vice President Joe Biden made a case for President Barack Obama’s sweeping executive orders and proposed legislation to curb gun violence, but he did not lay the blame exclusively on weapons.

“This isn’t just about guns,” Biden said on Thursday at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. “It’s about the coarsing of our culture.

“Yes, that’s what I said, the coarsening of our culture, whether it’s with video games or movies or behavior,” Biden said.

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Biden said mental health issues are also important in efforts to try to prevent events like the one that was the impetus for President Barack Obama’s push for gun control – the attack by a gunman in a Connecticut elementary school last month that killed 26 people, including 20 children.

“It’s about the ability to access mental health services and the safety of our schools,” Biden said. “It’s a very complex problem, and it requires a complex solution.”

Critic of the president’s plan, including the National Rifle Association and congressional Republicans, say it tramples on Americans' 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms and could even violate the Constitutional-established power of Congress.

Biden said he and the president believe in the 2nd Amendment and their plan is not a threat to law-abiding citizens who want to use guns for “protection or recreation.”

Biden also cited one of Obama’s executive orders that directs the Centers for Disease and Prevention to conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence.

“We need studies – and this is where the entertainment industry doesn’t like me at all – we need studies on what are the impacts on young minds of witnessing repetitive violent acts, either in movies, or on television or in video games,” Biden said.

He said he believed the entertainment industry has expressed willingness to help with the Obama administration’s efforts.

“That’s not an indictment of the industry - it’s a recognition we have no extensive modern studies on these things,” Biden said.

Biden concluded his remarks by repeating his charge about the role culture plays in violence in society.

“I believe we can turn this all around,” Biden said. “It’s not all because of guns.

“It’s a lot of other things,” Biden said. “But maybe what happened in Newtown is a call to action about more than just gun violence; about civility in our society.”