FLASHBACK: Gun-Owner Biden Calls For 'Mental Illness' Focus in Wake of Virginia Tech Massacre

January 14, 2013 - 1:23 PM

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Democratic Vice President Joe Biden. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – During a Democratic primary debate on Apr. 26, 2007 on MSNBC, then-Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.) said the government had “let the country down” by not focusing on mental health issues ahead of a gunman killing 32 and wounding 17 others at Virginia Tech just 10 days before the debate.

“We have let the country down in the way in which we have not focused on mental illness,” Biden said. “We should know that your kid is safe at college.”

“If teachers determine that a child is a danger, the school should be able to take them off the campus,” said Biden, who is now charged with providing recommendations concerning gun violence to President Obama tomorrow.

Vice President Biden made his remarks at that 2007 debate after moderator Brian Williams asked participants about gun ownership.

“How many of you, in your adult lifetime, have had a gun in the house?” Williams asked.

Biden joined Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Ct.), Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) in raising his hand.

“Sen. Biden, what could the federal government have done to save those kids at Virginia Tech?” Williams asked.  (On Apr. 16, 2007, student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people on the VT campus and then died after shooting himself.)

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Seung-Hui Cho, who shot at killed 33 people (including himself) at Virginia Tech on Apr. 16, 2007. (AP)

“What they could have done is two things,” Biden said. “One, I was the fellow who in the so-called Biden crime bill years ago to put a hundred thousand cops on the street, that the Clinton administration made work incredibly well. The first assault weapons ban was passed. I've worked with law enforcement for the past 30 years, deal with getting around with armor-piercing bullets, waiting periods, et cetera.”

“But the one thing that's clear, we should not have let the assault weapons ban lapse,” Biden said.

“Number two, we should close this so-called gun show loophole so you can't go in to a gun show and buy a gun that you couldn't buy walking into a gun shop,” Biden said.

“Number three, I agree with everyone here; we have let the country down in the way in which we have not focused on mental illness,” Biden said. “We should know that when you send a kid to college, you're going to be safe on college.”

“My wife is a doctor of education, a teacher at a community college,” Biden said. “If, in fact, she and other teachers determine that a child -- by the way they're writing and what they're acting -- that they're a danger, the school should be able to take them off the campus.”

Biden is expected to present his plan for curbing gun violence to President Barak Obama on Tuesday as part of the federal government’s response to the killing spree by a gunman last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 people dead, including 20 children.

As part of his strategy in preparing the plan, Biden met with “stakeholders” in the gun control issue last week, including sports shooting groups. Biden told them he also was a gun owner.

“I’m no great hunter,” Biden said.  It’s mostly skeet shooting for me.”