Biden: Senators Who Voted No on Gun Control Want to ‘Revisit’ Issue

Fred Lucas | June 18, 2013 | 4:33pm EDT
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Vice President Joe Biden (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

( – Vice President Joe Biden said senators who voted against the Obama administration-backed gun control legislation in April have contacted him implying they would change their votes if the measure is brought up again.

“I’m optimistic, because I’ve gotten those phone calls from those members of Congress, many of whom voted no, saying, ‘Can you find a way? Can you find a way? Can you find a way for us to revisit this?’” Biden said Tuesday at the White House. “So that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing – counting on the leadership, members of Congress here, and counting on the continued leadership of the workhorses in this administration.”

Biden insisted, “The country has changed,” and anyone who opposed stricter gun laws would “pay a political price.” He said polling bears this out for the first time. However, recent polling has shown mixed results on the issue of guns.

A gun control package with universal background checks died in the Democratic-controlled Senate this spring after bipartisan opposition. President Barack Obama made a major push for new gun restrictions after the massacre of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. After the murders, there was a spike in support for more gun laws, but it has since waned.

Biden made the comments when presenting the findings of a six-month progress report on gun safety from Obama’s 23 executive orders on guns in January. Biden said progress has been made, but Congress needs to act.

“As I’ve said before, we need to make sure the voices of the ones we lost are the loudest ones here in this fight,” Biden said. “We need to make sure that everyone in the country knows that this fight isn’t over, far from it. I would yield to my friends in the House and Senate, but I assure you, the one thing each of us has been saying to our colleagues about these votes is the country has changed. You will pay a political price for not getting engaged and dealing with gun safety.”

A June 14 Public Policy Polling survey found that 71 percent of voters support expanded background checks for gun buyers and 22 percent oppose it, with 51 percent of voters saying they are less likely to vote for a candidate in the 2014 mid-term election who didn’t support expanded background checks.

A Pew Research poll on June 10 showed the public about evenly divided, with 50 percent believing controlling gun ownership is more important and 48 percent believing protecting gun rights is more important.

Further, a Reason-Rupe national poll showed 62 percent believes the Senate should “move on to other issues,” while just 33 percent believes the “Senate should debate and vote on gun control legislation again.”

Biden said the Connecticut shootings represented a watershed event.

“It used to be, before Sandy Hook, that the polling data would show that although 60, 70, 80 percent of the people supported these significant and sound proposals we made, that when it came down to it, the 30 percent or 20 percent that didn’t support them, they’d show up on Election Day,” Biden said.

“They would make that the single most important issue. The other 80 percent would say that was a nice vote but it wasn’t determinative,” Biden continued. “What changed in Sandy Hook, the straw that broke the camel’s back, is now those people who support rational gun safety measures say this will be a defining issue for me. For the first time, a clear majority of those who favor rational proposals say it will make a difference in who I vote for. That’s a fundamental change in the political calculus.”

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